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Letters From Jail and The Missions Field

This page is for everyone, both new Old Silly readers and also my old Free Spirit Blog readers to be able to read the spiritual and inspirational guest posts written by my brother, Kevin Wilson, from behind bars. His spiritual transformation and journey will one day be made into a full length book, with Kevin and me co-authoring and yours truly doing the editing. Enjoy, be blessed, and count y0ur blessings. I now give you Kevin Wilson.

Thorns and Thistles – Notes of Warning From Jail

(January 1, 2009)

The Post

Today I have a guest writer on Free Spirit. It is a short story – a parable really, written by my brother, Kevin. Those of you who follow this blog regularly know that he is in jail, awaiting trial. He’s facing horrendous charges the likes of which, if found guilty of and convicted, could possibly mean spending the rest of his life behind bars. That is where this piece was written. He sent it to me in a letter, along with a request for me to edit it and post it. It was written in longhand. He has no access to a computer. I could barely make it through the task of keying the words onto my Word program and doing the edits. I had to stop repeatedly to wipe my eyes and blow my nose. Ten soaked hankies and about a quart of body fluids later, I was done.

Please read this. And if you are of the heart to do so, leave Kevin a comment today. I will be printing out this post, along with any comments you would like to leave, and mailing it to him tomorrow.

Okay. Take a deep breath. Here we go.

***

Luke 12: 48
For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.

Hebrews 6: 4 – 8
For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted in the Holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God and powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to bring them to repentance again, since they are recrucifying the Son of God for themselves and holding Him up to contempt. Ground that has absorbed the rain fallen upon it repeatedly and brings forth crops useful to those for whom it is cultivated receives a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is rejected; it will soon be cursed and finally burned.

***

Take Heed, Pilgrim
(of thorns and thistles)

This is a story about a man to whom much was given and of whom much was expected. Sadly, he squandered the many blessings that God bestowed upon him. Although the cleansing and bountiful rains watered his soil in abundance far greater than most, the expected harvest never came. Instead, only thorns and thistles grew. Take heed of this story, Pilgrim, lest your spiritual journey lead to such ruin as that of this man, for the thorns and thistles produced by him will soon be cursed and burned.

He was born a beautiful child and grew to a handsome man. That alone brings with it plentiful advantages in our world today. Those who are physically attractive have access to a much higher position in society than those who are thought of as ugly. People were drawn to him because of his outward beauty.

What potential he had to further the Kingdom of God. His comely countenance brought him into contact with the lives of numerous people who needed to hear the story of salvation. What they knew not was the wickedness in the heart of this outwardly alluring but inwardly repulsive man.

He was born into a family with a sterling Christian heritage. His Grandparents were like saints, his mother a prayer warrior, his father a devoted pastor and relentless counselor. His uncles were all pastors with their wives faithfully at their sides in servitude to Christ. His brothers – all similarly gifted – were deeply involved in spreading the Word. What an advantage he was blessed with to be placed in the care of such loving and God-serving people. What better training ground for a life of spirit-filled ministry could there be? Surely this man was destined to do great things in the name of the Lord. Little did his family know that he would make no use of his training ground. He would go the way of his vile heart, ignoring and rejecting his heritage.

He was a family member gifted in many ways by God, endowed with extraordinary reason and intelligence, exceptional communication skills, a pleasing personality with an inborn knack for making people laugh, a natural understanding of effective ministry, exemplary skills as a teacher and mentor, and he was a talented musician. The question was never if he would use his many gifts. The question was always how he would incorporate them into what was certain to be a lifetime of fruitful ministry, glorifying the name of God. Alas, they did not know that he would throw away all of that talent. His gifts from God would rot and decay amidst his sinful desires.

Do not fear not for the man’s salvation. He long ago confessed his sins to his Heavenly Father who promised to remove them from him as far as the East is from the West. Yes, he will enter the pearly gates and walk the streets of gold, although his reward will be among the lowest of the redeemed. Even so, the lowliest of those in heaven will experience an untold joy compared to those sentenced to an eternity of weeping and gnashing of teeth in the lake of fire.

Only take pity on him. And take heed for yourself. For his remaining years on earth, he has lost the favor of his god. His physical beauty is fading, his rich family heritage is useless to him now, and his talents and attributes have gone stagnant – they can no longer be used. After so many wasted opportunities, God has removed His gaze from him. He will no longer experience any blessings from God, nor will he experience the joy of answered prayer. God has turned His attention away from him, toward those who truly love Him, and toward those who seek to discern His will. The man’s tree has born no fruit. It has withered and died. His rich soil has produced only thorns and thistles that will be cursed and burned.

Pilgrim, learn your lesson from this man. Avoid the inescapable trap that he created for himself and fell into. If by learning from this man’s folly you are able to escape his fate, maybe … just maybe, the plentiful gifts of this man, or in this case the misuse of them, might actually bear fruit in you.

Amazing, isn’t it? How God can use a man’s gifts even when the man himself uses them not.

***

Written by Kevin Dale Wilson
Saturday, December 27, 2008.

***

The Comments

Marvin D. Wilson said- “Let me be the first to comment. Kevin’s laudable accounting of his brothers’ being ‘deeply involved in spreading the Word,’ while true today, has not always been the case. There are four of us brothers, me being the oldest, and only one of us has spent his entire adult life in faithful servitude to God.
I myself, as recently as 4 years ago, was an alcoholic, crack cocaine smoking, womanizing, self-serving self-pitying lost wretch seeking immediate gratification in any way possible to fill the empty aching hole in my soul. Another of the brothers spent many years wandering about in the depths of errant worldy ways. So Kevin, you are not the only ‘bad boy’ in the family. You just got caught.
And this letter, this story, this parable – is itself a ministry. God does watch over you and certainly has guided your heart and your left writing hand to pen this message, this admonition, this sermon from His messenger. Your witness to other inmates has already brought others to Christ. Now your story and testimony is on the internet on a well-read blog, where your ministry continues to shine like a lighthouse in a dark storm. And we will write that book that we have talked about. Your message will be read by tens of thousands, and your testimony and example will be of great benefit and service to those in need of the message of salvation.
And that is an answer to prayer. God has not ‘turned His gaze away from you.’ He is watching your every thought and action. And certainly, with this post, He is well pleased.”

Joyce Anthony said- “Kevin: Man can turn his back on God-and even walk away–but God stands ready, arms open wide, to accept him back if he chooses to return. God never turns away! Thank you for sharing with us today. Know that as long as you have made your peace with God, it is never too late.” (Big Hugs)

Stanley Berber said- “Kevin, I read your brother’s blog almost every day. I have been following your story, your plight. I pray for you every day. We have never met, but I feel you. This story you have written is so powerful and will, I’m sure, find favor with the god you seem to feel has forsaken you. I would just encourage you to stay the course. God is using you even now. Thank you for being man enough, humble enough, brave enough to write this and request of Marvin to post it.”

Grace Brooks said- “I’ve heard the most faithful of pastors and their families talk of this happening in their families. It means even with the best of Christian heritage and training, and because the parents are Christians, this does not always mean every child of theirs will be. I also wrote about this in my books, The Asquinn Twins Series, where one of the children grows up forsaking God’s way. His family and the church, and his wife, continued to pray and God turned him around and he started living for Christ again. The lesson here, is don’t give up on your brother, pray, pray and pray.”

Nina M. Osier said- “Ah, but God is using you, Kevin! In ways He cannot use those who never strayed.”
Blessings, Nina.

Cactus Annie said- “Marvin, this brought tears to my eyes. How you must have ached in your heart putting this post together.
Kevin, you are touching lives with your story and testimony. God is using you. You have a tremendous ministry, so no – it is not too late to use your gifts for the good. You can write. And you write well. Use that. God bless you, both you brothers. I’ll pray for you. Just don’t give up, Kevin.”

LeadHership said- “Kevin, You are priceless because there’s only one you. Only you can walk in your shoes & do what God needs you to do. Every day you are breathing you are being used by Him … from wherever you are. Read up on the Apostle Paul … you two have much in common (& look at the kind of legacy he left!). God Bless you, bro.”

Divinity Rose said- “Perhaps it is only that your gifts are needed there. Gilda Radner made an enormous difference once she was diagnosed with cancer by lighting up the lives of those in the hospitals, etc, her foundation …”

Carissa said- “Wow and wow! I have several siblings and none of us are alike. And similarly we were all raised by and around spiritual giants. So how is it some walk the same line and others have to walk everywhere except that line in order to even remember there’s a line to follow in the first place?
How much worse it would be if their heart is only hardened by every bad thing in life. The true amazing person finds a way to be softened despite the thorns and thistles.
Good luck Kevin. It sounds like you’re going to need some real love from without and within.”

Helen Ginger said- “I read your story on New Year’s Day, Kevin. It made me think about new opportunities and new starts. You are at a point in your life where things are not as you wanted or as you had hoped they would be. But you are also at a point of new beginnings and new opportunities.

Remember that you are not alone. You have family that loves you. You have a brother who will have your back and be there for you. You have a new direction in your life. You have faith. You have love. You have purpose. You have a new, difficult, path to walk. But you are not alone.”

Anonymous said- “Kevin, Many who are reading this today are finding one more thing for which to be grateful. Simply put, we turned our lives around before we got caught. Humans are flawed. We all make mistakes. Some of us make whoppers. The key to going forward is to learn from those mistakes, because the measure of a man is not so much how he failed, but what he does afterward.
We all screw up. We all fail. We all disappoint those we love. Most of us learn from those screw ups and failures (eventually – some of us are slow learners) and go on to do better. It sounds to me like you are seeking a new path. That is the first step. You are on your way.”

Moanerplicity said- “Kevin, Thank you for sharing this piece with your beloved brother and with the rest of us. As an older wiser relative of mine once said: ‘You GOT to GO THROUGH something to GET TO something.’
It took years before I understood the meaning of that phrase.
But we all go through something: trying times, adversity, failure, sickness, moral decay and spiritual death to reach a more Enlightened place. Ideally, these experiences teach us something key about ourselves & our inner, most truest character. This becomes a Larger life lesson, a spirit-builder.
As you reflect upon your life, it appears you’ve ‘gone through something’ and taken away something of value from your mistakes. That is the wonderful thing. That is what you’ve inherited, and it will make you stronger, richer, better and more self-actualized than you once were.
I wish you well on this new path of your journey. I send prayers to you. Stay strong, man! And from the jaws of suffering, snatch JOY!”
One.

orcalover said- “Kevin, well written. You are in a physical prison and know it. Many of us are in a prison of our own making, be it lack of faith, trust in the blacker side of life, or whatever and we do not recognize it. You’re faith will keep you. Yes, God is watching over you but he is not doing so obviously. It is time to stand on your own, at least in your mind. You’ve a ministry started with this post. Keep it going; share it with all that you can. Life is one adversity after another and only faith is the bridge. You are the gatekeeper of your own bridges. Close the negative ones and focus, as you are, on the positive. You are on the right path, keep moving forward.”

Nancy Kocsis said- “Kevin, this is your cousin Nancy. That is a powerful letter, but you so deserve to be recognized as one that is sorrowful, but not unforgiven or banished from the face of God. You are forgiven & set free & even now God is using your talents for His glory, & not Kevin’s. God has not turned His face from you but has given your physical being a new glow & a new talent for using in the kingdom of God.”

Anonymous said- “Kevin, You have redeemed yourself in the eyes of God, and I cannot believe he would ever turn his back on one of his sheep, especially one who has strayed.
I hope you find peace in his love.”

Marcus Phillips said- “I have a brother who is serving 20 years in prison. And he has NOT found God, he is full of bitterness, rage, and swears he’ll have his vengeance when he gets out. So who is really imprisoned, and who is free? Prison walls are not impenetrable to the eyes of God. Nor is the heart. You, Kevin, have reached the stage of repentance. God sees that, and will not forsake you, will not turn away from you. That is evidenced by this post. Take heart, and do not let your situation, awful and hard as it is, to dissuade you from staying on the path of righteousness.”

Katrina L Wampler said- “Kevin, I can only imagine the pain you suffer right now. I won’t try to pretend I understand but I can tell you, my heart goes out to you and you are continually in my prayers, as is your family. Please try to remember … He can do immeasurably more than we can even imagine to ask. Be bold in your prayers. Be strong in your faith. He has a plan even when we see no hope in the end.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 reminds us, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you, declares the Lord. And I will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.’
Even when God feels far away, He is always right there holding out his hands waiting for you to call on Him and ask boldly for your blessings. Also remember, that when we ask for forgiveness, He has promised to cast our sins to the depths of the sea to be remembered no more. You are the one that holds on to the sin … not Him. He’s already forgotten it and is waiting willingly to flood you with grace, mercy and blessings. Stay strong, my friend. You are loved, you are blessed, and you are safe.”

LeFerna Arnold Walch said- “My Pilgrim Friend, I believe in signs, and because I do believe, I am constantly hearing from God in so many wonderful ways. When I read your letter and prayed for you, I believe I was shown something He wanted me to share with you.
I looked out the window to find the Blue Jay at the bird feeder as he normally is when we have added bread or fresh seed to the feeder. But what I realized after watching all the birds for awhile was that there was a message in it for you. God made the Blue Jay very handsome on the outside, but they for some reason are mean and selfish on the inside— always trying to run all the other birds away from the feeder. But one bird always remains. The dove.
Like others have commented and your brother well knows, God, Yahweh and our sweet spiritual ‘Papa’ does not turn his gaze from His children. I know you’ve had to hear this before, but everything really does happen for a reason. You may not be in the most comfortable place in your life, but know He has a plan for you and has all along even if it doesn’t seem like it. I am living proof of this and so is Marvin. No one knows why things go the way they do when we know God loves us so much. Whether we fail Him or feel that He has failed us, there will always be mystery to it.
Owen Fiddler is such a wonderful example of how negativity can control our lives and keep us from hearing our direction from God. The world is full of negative things and giving into temptation to sooth the wounds never heals them. Only Jesus can do that. Jesus lived a very positive life by believing all things are possible through God who strengthened Him. It seems to me you have found a positive among all your pain, too. Keep Him close and He will reveal what is planned for you … even if you see it by watching the birds pecking at the ground.
Have you read ‘The Shack’ yet by William Paul Young? This is a wonderful explanation of why things happen the way they do in our Christian lives. It is fiction … but it is amazing how God has worked through this author … and He is working through Marvin and you, too. I can’t wait to read YOUR book!
You are about to touch many hearts and most of all minds. With our economy the way it is, many good people may be contemplating doing bad things, and you may be able to convince them to pray rather than to stray.
Think of the now and forget the why.
Through your wonderful brother, I pray that your message will reach the people it needs to reach as your new book finds its way to homeless shelters, hospitals and rehab centers, prisons and churches where we have so many people battling who they’ve become instead of who they need to be.
One of my favorite sayings will always be-
Your Heavenly Father is not finished with you yet. You are a work in progress!
And we love you.

Lamb Hugs,
LeFerna Arnold Walch
Author of The Secret of Yahweh!
The first children’s book for adults!

Leslie Wilson said- “Dear Kevin, Heaven and Hell is right here on earth. You are living it (Hell right now), But HEAVEN IS JUST AROUND CORNER.
We are born into a world of weakness; it is our own decision what we make out of this world of weakness. We all have some kind of DARK secrets that some day will come out into the LIGHT, if not this life time, then the next or the next or the next. I am deeply TOUCHED by everything that you are going through. Kevin you are still my GREAT and WONDERFUL brother in law that WAS weak. What you are going though right now is your lesson. ‘REMEMBER THE FOOT PRINTS’ God is carrying you right now. Keep your head up high and your heart right; everything is going to be ALRIGHT. It may not seem like it, but it’s already in the making. When you get out of jail Kevin, it’s going to be a NEW DAY a NEW DAY. I LOVE YOU ALWAYS AND SO DOES GOD.
Your sister in law, Leslie

Sharon – inspiring stories said- “Thank you for sharing your story from your heart. Like others have mentioned, perhaps your ‘ministry’ has just begun. My prayers are with you for strength in your inner man and for peace that passes all understanding in the midst of the storm.”

Jennifer @ Quiverfull Family said- “Kevin, it’s wonderful to ‘hear’ from you on Marvin’s blog (smile). Like many others I have been praying as the Holy Spirit brings you to mind over the past several months.
It’s certainly true that the works of our hands that do not glorify God will be burned when this world passes away, but those that glorify Him will pass through the fire. Your return to God’s embrace signifies a new beginning in your life, one that will – in time – bear fruit for Him. I’m thrilled that you are planning a book! There are so many men who I’m sure need to hear your message, your journey.
I’d like to recommend a book as well. Have you read ‘Riven’ by Jerry Jenkins? It’s fiction as well, but is about a prisoner, a condemned criminal who God uses in mighty ways despite his past sins. What the enemy means for evil, God uses for good when we surrender our lives to Him.
Your sister in Christ, Jennifer

Anonymous said- “Dear Kevin, We are related by your brother marrying my sister. I have heard about what has gone on in your life these past couple months and have felt the love that is pouring over you. My heart goes out to you. My soul aches for you. I want you to know that I, too, stand in the gap for you. I pray that God rain down his wonderful mercy and love from the heavens straight to the core of your being. That you are shaken, not stirred for the Lord in such a way that everyone that sees you knows – YOU ARE HIS! God bless you and your family.”
Tricia, Kim’s baby sister

Linda D. Wattley said- “Wow! I wish I had checked my e-mail sooner. There are not any human experiences in the Bible that can’t be experienced in our lives. This is the prodigal son for sure. I feel no grief for I feel his soul is all God is concerned with. Before we were born it was known all we would choose to do. I admire his desire to share and have dignity. I pray him great success in the midst of possible pain. Thanks for sharing.”

Jean Henry Mead said- “I’m a little overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from this group and all the wonderful advice, without the slightest hint of condemnation. Kevin, I’m sure you know how fortunate you are to have the love and support of Marvin and the rest of your family. God surely has a plan for you to follow, and daily prayer will get you through everything in your future. With so many people praying for you and your own determination to improve your life, how could you not come out of this dilemma a much better man?”

Jessica Sue said- “Dad, I know it seems as if more and more terrible things keep happening to you, but you must not look at it as punishment or as a sign that God is not with you. That is what Satan wants you to think. Spiritual warfare is very real. And very strong. You cannot let Satan triumph–he will cut your legs, rip off your arms, and pluck every hair from your head. But he will NEVER be able to take your heart … unless you let him. Don’t let Satan win–don’t give him your heart. Keep your heart full of all the wonderful and good things you still have, and all of the great memories you will ALWAYS have. Remember the good. Forget the bad. That’s the only way to stay positive when life seems to be crashing down around you. Maybe it sounds ignorant, foolish, childish. But maybe … just maybe, ignorance really is bliss?”

The Daily Blonde said- “I live my life to the best of my ability, make mistakes and try to correct them. Sometimes we just get served up an extra dose of shit, as I see it. Some squeak through … some, not so lucky. Kevin, you are using the one thing that gets me through any difficult time: writing. Keep at it. Your talent is so worth pursuing … no matter where you hang your hat. Peace.”

Morgan Mandel said- “Kevin, I can’t make your pain or your situation go away. I can only feel bad that you made some wrong choices which got you into the horrible position you’re in now. Hopefully, your words here will strike a chord with someone who was considering going the wrong way and will reconsider. I’ll keep you in my prayers.”

China Harris said- “Uncle Kevin, First I would like to say, I love you, I miss you, and I pray for you every day! God works in mysterious ways. I think we sometimes take that statement for granted. Satan spends every second of every moment of everyday trying to turn our head away from God, and because we’re human and therefore imperfect, it works from time to time. We get caught up in temptation and forget why we’re hear on earth (to worship and spread God’s word). I believe that God is working on you now, in his mysterious way. I love you!”
Your niece, China Harris

Free Spirit (Tammy) said- “A letter I heard in my spirit, that I believe to be from God:
Kevin, My son, I’ve known you from the beginning of time. There is nothing about you that I don’t know, nor haven’t I known, from your conception in My heart. I created you, my son … for ME. I wanted a relationship with you, so much that I gave up everything … just to have you.
Don’t you think I’ve known from the outset what your life and choices would be? Do you honestly think you’ve surprised Me, here? That I haven’t somehow known the end from the beginning. Son, when you were in your mother’s womb, I knew this day would come. You see, I love you. Period. And, while you were yet a sinner … I died for you.

You don’t get it. I’d do it all over again … just to have you. You’re worth it to Me, yes, even now, even today … knowing what I’ve always known about you. It’s true what you’ve said here, that I’ve removed your sin as far as the East is from the West. Do you know how far that is? It’s gone, my son. It’s just gone.
But, may I tell you where you’re wrong? I have never lifted My gaze from upon you. I can not violate My own nature, and it is outside of Me to be able to do such. Not since Jesus. You see, no matter what price man can hand to you, Jesus has already paid your debt. You owe nothing. He took your punishment … on a cross one day, about 2000 years ago. I have poured out all of My wrath … on that day … on that Man … until I have none left … for you. Sins, yes, every one of them, has already been paid for.
But be encouraged, my son, there is no man-made prison that can keep out My love for you. It’s not all over for you. Have you ever seen the kind of lemonade I can make … out of lemons? I mean the most sour of choices. Don’t forget who I am.
Kevin I want you … still, to this day. I WANT YOU BECAUSE I CAN”T STOP LOVING YOU. No matter what you’ve done. My heart aches for you. Yearns for you. I have never wanted your allegiance. I want your heart, son. And I’m not talking about salvation. That’s settled. I’m talking about that part of you that you’ve shut down, in the belief that I have given up. It’s not too late. Never too late for a relationship, son. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be right here … when you’re ready. And you’re wrong that My attention has turned from you. My attention is not toward those who ‘truly love’ Me, but toward those whom I truly love.
Kevin, I’m especially fond of you. Affectionately so.
May I remind you of something else that I had put in the book? It’s in what they named Romans. Chapter 11, verse 29: ‘… for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.’ Let me define that for you … not able to be changed, reversed, or recovered … in other words, final.
Don’t think that I am so small that I can’t perform My own word. I’m bigger than you have imagined, Kevin. Much bigger.
You can choose to believe something different. But, it will never change Who I am … your Daddy, Who loves you. Period.”

Connie Royce said- “Uncle Kevin, I have now read your story, heard your words and digested your meaning. I think you are finding your way back from being lost.
It doesn’t matter what made you lose your way, how long you were lost or how you make your journey back. What matters is that you believe in and hold onto whatever it is that brings you back.
Your brother always says that we are one with everything … if this is true, then don’t turn your back on yourself and you will no longer believe that God has turned his back on you. If all is one then everything has the same importance. You haven’t lost your importance … you can’t. It isn’t yours to lose. You are a part of everything!
Continue your journey and you will find your way back. Just remember to believe and hold onto whatever is bringing you back.
One Love, Connie Royce

Bruce Hanover said- “I followed a twitter lead over here to this blog. God uses everything, it seems. This post, this testimony, this cry out to God and the outpouring of love from everyone here is the stuff of true God in action. Kevin, you are a blessed child of God. Sins are sins. We all make them, and no sin is greater or lesser than the other. All sins keep us cut off from unity with the Father. Take heart. Your path is being revealed to you. Your prayers arebeing answered. Just look at this what is happening right now! Let not your heart be troubled, my brother in Christ – God is with you ALL ways. Even in ways you may not see or comprehend yet.”

Donna Hubbard said- “Philippians 3:13-14 – ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal.’

Kevin, my beloved cousin. Your personal life here is a mess, to understate, but your spiritual life just keeps getting stronger and stronger. I see your spiritual growth as a sign that God is with you. Remember the old hymn, ‘Be not dismayed what ere be tide, God will take care of you.’ Lean on the Lord and give Him praise.”
Donna

Ceil in Dallas said- “Dear Kevin, It may have taken going to jail for God to get your attention, but He certainly has it now, and that is a good place for you to be. He promised that He will never leave you nor forsake you. When He looks at you (and He is always watching you lovingly), He does not see the sin and wasted potential, He sees the blood of Jesus covering your sin and especially He sees the change in your heart. And that He is rejoicing over (as are your family members!).
I was struck by your comment that your physical beauty is fading. I have thought a lot about this lately, and I have concluded that physical beauty is not really a gift but is in some ways a curse. Because the ‘beautiful people’ of the world never know if people love them because of their outward appearance or because of the person they are inside. Just like the rich never know if people love them or just their money. Not being one of the beautiful people myself, I was fortunate enough to marry someone who faithfully loves me for who I am inside. That someone would be your brother Daryl.
And God, too, looks not on your outward appearance, but at your heart. What He is seeing there now is beautiful to Him. And He does have a future for you that is good. Your life is not over; you have many years left to use your gifts in His service. In fact, you have already begun to do so.
We are praying for you.”
Ceil Wilson

***

Letters From Jail – Farewell Donny

(February 28, 2009)

The Post

My brother, Kevin Wilson, is the guest writer for today. Writing from behind bars, his “Letters From Jail” series continues to be an inspiration to us all. If you have not followed his saga and wish to get some background information, click here. And now here is Kevin’s latest letter-

Farewell Donny

Donny left today. He served his 90 days, the guard came and got him and he is free now. Lord, I pray that you will be with him. Keep him safe, guide and protect him. Don’t let him stumble and fall. He has a child-like faith in You. His limited mental capacity makes it difficult for him to understand right from wrong or to comprehend the possible consequences of his actions. Steer him to a situation in which he can thrive and Your blessings will shower down upon him.

Lord, why is it that some, such as I, are given so much, so many blessings, advantages, and opportunities, while others, such as Donny, are born into a life of struggle – with physical afflictions, a mind that doesn’t function well, and no nurturing from a mother or father? What is your purpose and design in all of this? I know that your ways are mysterious and that everything You do is meant to ultimately bring glory to Your name, but it seems unfair that some are blessed while others wear chains and shackles that hinder and harass.

I was with Donny for the last 70 days of his sentence. His first 20 days were spent being moved from cell block to cell block. He would only last a few days in each one before the guards would have to move him because the other inmates either teased him, or extorted him, or threatened to harm him. I can understand why. The average inmate, immersed in his own anger and despondency, has little compassion for a 19 year old who is physically deformed, has the mental capacity of an eight year old, and who often acts as if he is three. Donny was high maintenance in a situation where few care for anyone other than themselves.

I pray, Lord, that I had an impact on him for You. I pray that I served the purpose for which You caused our paths to cross for a short time. I pray that I made a difference in his life. I pray that our little talks will remain in his broken mind where not all the connections are right. I may never see Donny again in this life. I pray that, if I am the only Jesus Donny will ever see, my representation of Christ to him was sufficient and will stay with him until he sees You – the Christ in heaven, as you wrap Your arms around Him.

Donny never met his father, and he barely knows his mother. She was an alcoholic heroin user when Donny was in her womb. As a result, Donny’s mind is not right and, absent a miracle, it never will be this side of heaven. In addition, Donny was born with a large birthmark that covered two thirds of his back and wrapped up and around his left shoulder and down over his chest. It was necessary for the birthmark to be removed when he was less than three years old. The resulting scars and deformity are difficult to look at. The rest of his skin is riddled with hundreds of smaller birthmarks, many of them have hair growing out of them. To date he has had over 90 surgeries to remove problem areas of his skin.

If I were born with such afflictions I still would have had the advantage of a family who loved me and cared for me. God placed me into a compassionate family with an incredible Christian heritage. But not Donny. Donny was raised by a combination of his older sister, a drunkard abusive uncle, and several foster homes – only one of which taught him about Jesus. For the most part, Donny has been on his own, absent the support and love of a mother and father – the way God designed families to be.

Farewell, Donny. Godspeed. I know I wasn’t perfect in my dealings with you. I sometimes was irritated by your childishness, I guess much like I would have been had I spent 70 days locked up with a three year old. You are a special young man, Donny. God is watching over you today and He will bring glory to His name through your life. I will see you again, but it will be on the streets of gold and you will have your new body and mind. All the shackles of your earthly vessel will be removed and you will soar on wings like an eagle. After ten thousand years of praising God and enjoying your eternal reward, you will realize that your few years of struggle on this cursed planet were worth it.

Farewell, Donny. I’ll see you soon.

***

The Comments

Doc. Todd said- “Bro, man, Bravo I am speechless, and have a tear running down my cheek, BRAVO!”

Ron Berry said- “Kevin, you ministered to a young man that needed guidance. For that you shall receive your reward on the blessed streets of gold. It is hoped that of that blessing comes while you are still in your earthly form and that you are removed from this earthly hell and able to return to the life of a civilian. It is in that life you could continue to minister to the weaker and less fortunate. Keep up the good work and please allow me to offer you my blessings as well.”

Frank and Mary said- “‘I know I wasn’t perfect in my dealings with you.’ Well. I think that every day in every way …” ~Mary

QM said- “I am speechless. It is truly ah-mazing!”

Jessica Sue said- “It definitely is sad and mysterious why God chooses to, seemingly, punish some people and not others. I’m glad you were there to show him some love and compassion so his entire stay was not full of hate and ridicule.”

Grace said- “It is a mystery why God seemingly chooses to bless some and not others, but it is not our place to question a sovereign God. You have been a blessing to someone in prison. Why not focus on that and carry on being a blessing to as many inmates as you can?”

Cactus Annie said- “Kevin, I think it’s wonderful that you can “count your blessings” and care for someone else less “fortunate” even while undergoing such a terrible experience yourself. Very inspiring.”

Divinity Rose said- “So touching.”

Quirkyloon said- “’you will realize that your few years of struggle on this cursed planet were worth it.’ Wise words, my friend, very wise words. You helped Donny and you also help us who are reading your thoughts and inspirations.”

Thank-you for touching my heart (again) today. 🙂

Kim Hix said- “Kevin, love your story about Donny. It saddens me that someone like him was placed in such an inappropriate environment for his punishment, seems to me if he is mentally disadvantaged and has other known disabilities (mental) he should have been placed somewhere like a hospital setting for people doing time? I love that you draw such inspiration from him and your situation.”

Stanley Berber said- “Really enjoyed and appreciated this touching and inspirational post. I’m sure Donny will never forget his time together with you, Kevin. Keep the faith, brother.”

Morgan Mandel said- “Let’s hope Donny finds his way and meets someone to help him along.”

Dana Fredsti said- “Kevin, I really hope you get out of there sooner rather than later… You deserve your second chance.”

Helen Ginger said- “As always, an inspiring, moving, post. Thanks for letting us read it.”

Jennifer @ Quiverfull Family said- “That’s so touching Kevin. God bless you as you continue to impact the world for Christ.”

Connie Arnold said- “Thanks for sharing this inspiring story! We can’t understand why some people have to go through such afflictions, but you are doing what we are called to do, Kevin. You are being Christ’s light in a troubled world. May God continue to bless you in your ministry.”

***

Letters From Jail – God’s Law and Man’s Law

(March 8, 2009)

The Post

Brother Kevin Wilson returns to share with us again today. Writing from behind bars in Marquette, Michigan, County Jail, here is his latest offering in the inspirational “Letters From Jail” series.

***

The Law of God and the Law of Man

A while back, here on Free Spirit, Marvin initiated a discussion about The Love of Jesus or the Law of Man. The discussion centered on the controversy about whether it is necessary for someone who has sinned (and broken the law in doing so) to suffer the punishment of man in order to be fully forgiven by God. Is the forgiveness of God complete and sufficient in and of itself, or must we also face the punishment of man in order to receive full forgiveness?

It is a difficult question, and I believe the answer is not black and white. What is true for one person may not be true for another. God is the ultimate Judge. He deals with each of us in a unique way. I have come to the conclusion that, in my case, submitting to the law of man was a necessary step to bring me to a place of genuine repentance, and therefore complete forgiveness and restoration from God. Let me explain.

In the far past I committed some sins. It wasn’t pretty, and I am ashamed of my actions. Even worse, I hurt some people as a result. I confessed to God long ago, and I believed that I was forgiven. Yet I continued to carry guilt with me about it over the years. I never could feel comfortable. I never told anyone else about it. I couldn’t. I was too ashamed and also afraid of the law of man. I attributed the nagging guilt to Satan putting (as he often does) my confessed transgressions in front of me in order to confuse and shame me. I now realize that the pestering doubt came from the Holy Spirit.

About five and a half months ago I was confronted by the police. My past had caught up with me and came knocking on my door. Although I had rehearsed in my mind over and over what I would do to escape prosecution in such a predicament, I inexplicably felt a strong urge to confess. And I did. Contrary to common sense and to every cop and detective show ever produced, I sat down with the officer, without a lawyer, and told him everything. And then my world collapsed around me.

Why did I go against my well-laid plans to escape? The Holy Spirit. He knew it was necessary for me to face the law of man and for my world to crumble into pieces. It was my only path to true repentance and forgiveness.

Fast forward to today. I entered a guilty plea to a lesser charge in court. The original charges, as they so often are, were extreme – an indictment punishable by the fullest extent of the law for those guilty of the worst possible kinds of crimes in that category. The lesser charge to which I pled guilty, and for which there is a considerably less harsh punishment, is a more accurate representation of what actually happened.

As I sat in my cell contemplating the day’s events, I read a letter from my dear friend (and soon to be ex-mother-in-law), Jan Pray. She had sent me some material on Bible-based forgiveness that pointed me to Romans, Chapter 13:1-5. These verses describe how God has set up the judicial system in accordance with His sovereignty and how we are to submit ourselves to it. Interesting. The law of man has been set up by God, as an agent of His, to bring punishment to wrongdoers. Yes, a wrongdoer such as myself.

As I read, studied, and meditated on those verses, verse five stood out:

“Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment, but also because of conscience.” (Romans 13:5 NIV)

Wow, that hit me. That explained all the guilt I had been shouldering all those years, even though I had admitted the error of my ways to God ages before. To be fully forgiven, to come to a place of genuine repentance (a prerequisite for total absolution), it was necessary for me to submit myself to the law of man.

So now I have lost my freedom for a while. I’ve lost my job, my career, and virtually all of my possessions. And I have lost the most beautiful, loving, caring woman on the planet – all because I surrendered to the urging of the Holy Spirit to confess and give in to the law of man.

Depressing, right? Not so fast. Consider this.

God knew the choices I would make even before I was formed in the womb. He knew I would make those mistakes. Rather than give up on me, He devised a plan to bring me through it and to mold me into the man He originally created me to be – maybe even better!

Had I not divulged my crimes to the authorities I would still be burdened with that persistent feeling of remorse. I would not have reached a place of indubitable penitence. I would not have faced the dismantling of my world – a dismantling that has brought me closer to God through brokenness, rather than driving me away from Him in self-pity. I would not have gone through the fire – the testing of my faith that is proving my faith to be genuine to the praise, honor, and glory of Christ Jesus (I Peter 1:6-7). I would not be wholly prepared to serve him for the next thirty months on the mission field He has chosen for me. Simply put, I would still be Owen Fiddler, wallowing in the spiritually stagnant, green pond scum that was my former life.

Do you see it? Do you get it? God, in the wonderful, mysterious manner that only He could imagine, has taken something as vile as my long ago wickedness and, through nothing short of a miracle, created something beautiful – a man who is authentically repentant, totally forgiven, and completely prepared to be a man of God for the rest of my life. He not only accomplished this in spite of my sins, He accomplished it because of my sins.

Don’t get me wrong. He never wanted me to commit those misdeeds, and I grieved Him greatly in doing them. But He knew I would do them and He has used that to bring me to a level in my spiritual journey that I may have never attained absent this experience. That, my friends, is amazing.

So there you have it. In my case, facing the law of man was a necessary step in my spiritual journey. How about you? Is the Holy Spirit prompting you to go through the fire? Are you willing to do it?

***

Stanley Berber said- “Way to man up, Kevin. We all have skeletons in our closets, some small, some large, but truth and honesty is always the best way. I haven’t had to go to jail for confessing wrongdoings, but I’ve had to be humbled before for confessing wrongdoings to people I’ve hurt. So I can relate. There is power and liberation in coming clean. And that’s a good thing, a God thing.”

Ron Berry said- “From your weakness of the flesh you have gained the strength of your God. Not everyone can do that. It is by your will alone that you will survive and even thrive after this ordeal is over.”

  

Grace said- “God puts all his children through the fire and always we come out the other side a better man or woman. It seems you have in your case.
Matthew 26:39
‘And he went a little further and fell on his face, and prayed,saying, O my father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.’
THOUGHT:
WHEN WE FALL ON OUR KNEES AND BRING OUR PETITIONS TO GOD, SOMETIMES, AS THE LORD DID, WE NEED TO GO A LITTLE FURTHER AND FALL ON OUR FACE, AND THEN BE ACCEPTING OF HIS WILL FOR OUR LIVES.”

Divinity Rose said- “Thank you so much for sharing this inspiration! (smile)”

Cactus Annie said- “Once again, awesome. So powerful a testimony, turning such a corner in your life and being able to receive grace and feel rewarded while serving out a sentence in jail. God is truly mysterious and GOOD!”

Jean Henry Mead said- “A wonderful post, Kevin. I hope it helps someone else who is teetering on the verge of confessing a crime or personal sin. You’re an inspiration for us all.”

Morgan Mandel said- “Sometimes the hardest things to do are the ones you know must be done. The main thing is to feel at peace with yourself.”

Helen Ginger said- “Thank you for sharing such a wonderful post. It clearly comes from your heart.”

Angela Breidenbach said- “Ah, now I see how you understand that God uses broken vessels. Excellent blog, Marvin. I’ve had to face my past in order to make a difference in the future for myself and my children. We all do eventually. God uses everything, good and bad, to make beauty out of our disasters. It’s in the realness of your sharing that will matter to others. Thank you, Kevin for writing and sharing this!”

A. K. said- “Kevin – Amen to that. Thanks for sharing this. You have inspired me in many ways. God Bless You.”

Doc. Todd said- “Word. Sometimes in God, the learning curve hurts – you did Man Up, and that is good. Remember there is 3 steps, the Holy Spirit uses to teach us; conviction, repentance, deliverance.
Conviction … seeing we sinned, Repentance … asking forgiveness not to sin again, and deliverance … God taking that desire to sin away completely.
Being a Christian is pro active, meaning we have to be open to see what we did wrong or that sin, ask God to help us, and then implement it – that’s free will.
WE have the choice to do what God asks of us. I struggle with sin every day, and until the day of completion that will be a constant battle, it just gets easier every time. Hang in there Brother, after every battle is glory.”

***

Letters From Jail – Possessions

(March 22, 2009)

The Post

Here’s the latest in the “Letters From Jail” series. Written by brother Kevin Wilson from behind bars, today he has a lesson to share that applies to all of us, whatever the life situation.

***

Possessions

Possessions. We collect them. We cling to them. We vigorously protect them. From the moment, as a toddler, we can articulate the word, “mine!” we are possessed by our possessions. For our entire lives we undertake the utter madness of compiling as many earthly treasures as our built-upon-sand homes can contain, and we guard them with our lives as if our very existence depended upon them.

Why is that? What is it about all that stuff that makes it so dear to us?

Jesus cautioned about storing up for ourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. He taught that we should store up for ourselves treasures in heaven because, He said, “Where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also.” (Mathew 6:19-21)

Jesus also taught the parable of the rich fool who had harvested such a large crop that his barns could no longer hold everything. So he built bigger barns to store all his grains and goods. Then he went about his way, taking life easy, eating, drinking and being merry. Little did he know that his life would be demanded of him that very night. “Who then will get all that he had prepared for himself?” (Luke 12:16-19)

And then, to drive home his point even further, Jesus told the rich young man who was seeking to inherit eternal life that simply keeping all of the commandments wasn’t enough. He instructed him to sell everything he had, and to give the proceeds to the poor. Then he would have treasure in heaven. Sadly, the man’s face fell and he went away into an eternity separated from God, “for he had great wealth with which he was unwilling to part.” (Mark 10:17-22)

I too, have been guilty of gathering and clinging to my possessions. They’re all gone now, though. The house has been taken back by the bank and has a large “FORECLOSED” sign on the front door. The truck, the 52” flat screen TV, the large, plush sectional couch, the master bedroom set, the glass computer desk – all gone, either lost in the divorce or sold in order to put a dent in my ever-mounting legal bills.

It is a relief, really, to be rid of them. There is liberation in being free of it all. Jesus also taught that we should not worry about what we shall eat or drink, or what we will wear. He said that our life is more important than food and that our body is more important than clothes. He told us to-

“Watch the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. The birds do not sow or reap, neither do they store away in barns, yet our heavenly Father feeds them. The lilies of the field do not labor or spin, yet God clothes them with a splendor even greater than that of King Solomon. Are we not much more valuable to Him than the birds and the lilies?” (Mathew 6:25-29)

Yet even now as I write, on February 17, 2009, exactly four months from the day on which I was stripped of all my possessions and taken into custody, I notice that I have again begun to collect more earthly treasures and to desire them just as much as my former possessions. Sure, these new treasures don’t carry as much monetary value as those of my former life, but they have become very important to me nonetheless. Too important. Here’s an inventory.

1. An extra pair of used, stained, crusty underwear, an extra pair of hole-ridden socks, and an extra armpit-stained T-shirt. You see, inmates are only issued one each of those items and they are always second hand – worn dozens, even hundreds of times previously. Over the course of my four months here I have managed to accrue an extra set of each of them by inheriting them from departing inmates. These are valuable possessions only so I can wear clean – although stained, crusty, and holy – clothes each day while the other set is being laundered. I have to guard them closely if I want to keep them. The jailors will confiscate them if they find them in the next shakedown. I have ingeniously found a way to hide them in plain sight by sticking them in the laundry hamper each day. There they go unnoticed and have survived four shakedowns so far. Yes, I guard these treasures closely. And yet I wonder, why?

2. One extra bed sheet. Only two are issued. They are old, gray, and tattered. I have inherited an extra that I fold up and use as a pillow at night. We are not issued pillows, and the extra sheet provides me a soft surface on which to lay my head. This too would be lost in a shakedown. It hides daily in the hamper with my extra set of clothing. I make sure that no one else takes it because I really need it. Or do I?

3. Several small pieces of rubber torn from the sole of an old jailhouse-issued shoe. I use them as erasers. The pencils we are issued have no erasers. If the jailors ever find these they will take them as well. I have hidden lots of them in various places so that at least some of them will survive a shakedown. They are very important to me. But are they really?

4. Seventeen small, oval Sunkist stickers taken from the skins of the occasional orange we receive at lunch. I use these stickers to post things on the wall of my cell. Tape is not allowed. With these stickers I have pasted pictures of my mother and my beautiful children, Jessica and Kevin Jr., a scripture passage from Proverbs 3:5-6, a pocket calendar, and a prayer that I found in a book. I have only three stickers left. I need them all, in case I need to post something else. What would I do without them?

5. Two small packets of mustard and one packet of ketchup. I trade my mayonnaise and tarter sauce packets for these at lunch and dinner, as they are my preferred condiments. I hoard them like gold. It’s important that my sandwich tastes good, right?

So you see, even though I have been stripped down to virtually nothing, I have managed to begin gathering and hoarding new treasures, treasures equally important to me as that 52” flat screen, high definition, LCD television that once adorned the wall of what was my 625 square foot, luxuriously carpeted and comfortably outfitted family room, complete with fireplace. I can’t help myself. I see things and I think that I need them, and I worry whether or not I will still have them tomorrow. It is still part of my carnal nature, and it is sad – very sad.

Soon I will be moved to another facility, a prison somewhere in Michigan, and I will again be stripped of all my possessions. All of this “wealth” I have accumulated will be taken away from me. Upon arrival to my new home, I will be stripped naked, every body cavity will be examined for contraband, and I will be issued another set of clothes and a bed roll. I will again have to start all over collecting my possessions.

This process of collecting, then losing, then collecting again, possessions will never end until I finally enter the gates of heaven where I will meet my creator. Thankfully then, I finally will know what it is like to have my every need fulfilled and I will long for nothing else but Him.

There is one collection of possessions I have been guarding that I didn’t mention in my list. It is the one collection that I believe my Papa is proud to know I guard with my life. In a Styrofoam cup, sitting on the 2’ x 3’ unpainted metal that is my desk, are 53 small folded slips of paper. On each slip is a handwritten scripture verse or passage that I have come across in my daily reading and study of the Bible. These are verses that have encouraged me, challenged me, loved me, chastised me, and made promises to me. They have been the source of my strength, my anchor amidst this tempest, my lifeline to my Maker. Without this cherished collection I would have long ago drowned in the depths of the sea and been consumed by the fire of the land.

I started with just a small handful of scriptures, but as I have gathered, collected and hoarded more and more, my cup is now overflowing (pun intended). Each night, after I am locked into my small cell, the cell block is silent and the lights are left on for an hour. I spend time with my heavenly Father and His words to me – words that were written in heaven even before this world was created – that have found their way into a tiny, white, Styrofoam cup on my humble rust-stained desk.

Before I begin, I ask the Holy Spirit to emblazon His precious words into the inner recesses of my mind and to stamp them permanently onto the tablet of my heart. Then I open each slip and read each scripture. I pause to listen … and finally I rephrase each verse so as to pray it back to Him. This is my unique form of prayer and meditation and it has transformed my life. Those 53 slips of paper, worn from months of nightly use, are my most prized earthly possessions, and they will remain so for the rest of my life.

Since those precious possessions are truly important, truly necessary, and truly precious, I have taken pains to be certain that they will not be lost when I am moved and again have to give up all that I have obtained. On one sheet of paper I have written down the scripture references for each of the 53 scripture verses and passages and I have mailed that sheet to my brother Marvin for safe keeping. He will keep that precious document for me and mail a copy of it to me every time I am moved to another location. Then I will go through the painstaking process of hand writing each one out again on its own slip of paper … letter after letter, word after word and verse after verse.

By the time I have finished my work in this mission field, these scriptures will have become such an indelible part of me that they will be inseparable from my being. That, my friends, is a good thing. And those, fellow sojourners, are possessions worthy of being kept and guarded – the words of God.

If I could, I would list each of the scriptures here for you, but space does not permit it. If, however, you would like a copy – if you would like to begin the process of renewing the spirit of your mind such that it will transform your spiritual journey in ways unimaginable, contact Marvin. He will see to it that you get a copy. Then you too can begin to collect, hoard and guard something of eternal value. And then maybe, just maybe, you can stop collecting all that junk in your closet!

I will leave you with one of these key scripture passages for you to ponder.

“If you remain in my Word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Amen to that. God bless you and keep you all.

***

The Comments

Joyce Anthony said- “It is truly amazing what we deem important. I have never been very materialistic but I often find my space filling with things-and at least once a year I get the urge to rid myself of all but the basics. It is freeing actually.”

Ron Berry said- “It is sad that humans are so materialistic. I have a few things that are important to me, materially. But my most important possessions are my friends, online and off, and my knowledge such as it is. The one possession that can never be taken is what is in one’s head, knowledge, memories, the ability to think.”

Doc. Todd said- “‘It is a relief, really, to be rid of them. There is liberation in being free of it all.’ Jesus also taught that we should not worry about what we shall eat or drink, or what we will wear. He said that our life is more important than food and that our body is more important than clothes.’
Quite liberating. I lost everything I held dear 4 years ago, a motorcycle wreck handled that, a job I loved that was very well paying, a $1.6 million dollar condo on Puget Sound in Seattle, a H1 Alpha, a 68 Camaro convertible, 2 other cars, toys, blah, blah, blah, and my wife and son. I moved into my new apartment a few weeks ago – I had nothing a box full of stuff, my notebook computer, some clothes, most importantly my Bible and I realized God will provide everything I need, the key word NEED. Yeah I want a 56 inch high def lcd, but as Steve a close friend pointed out, that-s a want not a need. We all NEED Jesus, and that’s all we really need, along with that is surrender. God has you and me right where he wants us … to learn. Back then I loved God, but was not in love with him, today I don’t have money to distract me from him, I must depend on him for all my needs, and its a great place to be.

Thanks, Kevin”

Quirkyloon said- “Another wonderful and edifying post. It’s funny as I was reading his new ‘collection’ of things … I didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. I didn’t think he was being selfish or worldly. It’s hard to let go of mental and emotional conditioning of what is truly a want versus a need. Marvin, I would love a copy of Kevin’s list of scriptures. Thanks (smile)”

Marvin D. Wilson said- “Quirky, thanks – you know I had that same feeling when I read Kev’s letter/essay and was keying it in and editing it for the post. Of course he is talking in terms of basic and fundamental principles and human nature. I’ll be glad to send you a copy of the prayer/scripture list!”

Cactus Annie said- “Great post. Possessions can indeed possess us. And it is true that only the possessions of the heart, mind and soul are those worth clinging to. Another inspirational writing, thank you Kevin.”

Jean Henry Mead said- “A very inspiring post, Marvin. As I’m packing to move, I wish I didn’t have quite so many unnecessary possessions.”

L. Diane Wolfe said- “And here we treasure things that don’t even matter …
makes one grateful for such simple luxuries.”

Nancy Kocsis said- “Kevin, I know that sometimes God does strip of us everything to make us realize how unimportant earthy things (stuff) are. I remember Mom saying that about Jonathan after he died. He had come to realize these things when he became soo sick. I know you have been hiding God’s word in your heart & you are going to recall it when you need it most. I am still so proud of you, & proud to call you Cousin. You have had to learn a lesson hard, but have a chance to come out the strongest.”

Ceil said- “Another excellent post, Kevin. Most of us have not been stripped of our possessions to the degree that you have, but I get a sense from you of how freeing that truly is. And God will provide all that we actually need. We are praying for you as you go through these transitions … that God will protect you and provide for you.”

A. K. said- “We are all without a doubt greedy. Sad that we allow greed to rule us. That was a great post. Thanks for sharing.”

Morgan Mandel said- “Amazing how your perspective can change on what’s important to you and what’s not. My dog, Rascal, is hung up on her comforter. If I so much as touch it, she comes running over to it to lick and gnaw at it. I understand. It’s hers and she cherishes it.”

Free Spirit said- “Good word to all, Kevin. And, couldn’t come from a more relevant voice than your own, considering what you’re going thru. Important thing is your knowledge/belief that you already have THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. TRULY the ONE thing that simply can NEVER be taken from you. Keep those eyes set on the hope that is before/within you! Your better days are coming!”

Valerie Jensen said- “Kevin, I continue to thank God for the work He has begun in you. ‘He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.’ What wisdom and understanding He is imparting to you! Thank you for sharing with all of us these prized lessons God is teaching you.
P.S. One of my ‘prized possessions’ is a recently-created computer file–created in just the past few months. The file’s name? ‘Kevin Wilson,’ and it contains all the ‘Letters from Jail’ lessons you have shared. Thank you. (smile)”

Thanks, Marvin, for being the “go-between” on getting these comments to Kevin.

***

Letters From Jail – The Choice

(March 15, 2009)

The Post

All of the posts written by my brother, Kevin, in his “Letters From Jail” series, have been soul-searching and inspirational. But this one is exceptionally so. Today I again give you a piece written from behind bars, the latest and one of the most touching, poignant, stirring, and challenging articles yet, written by Kevin D Wilson. Have a hanky ready and read on-

***

The Choice

Endlessly the vision haunts me. I dare not close my eyes lest the scene be vividly displayed in my mind. It may well haunt me forever. The pain may never go away.

“Divorce granted,” the judge proclaims as he brings to close the worst day of my wretched life, a life that has seen terrible days of late … but none worse than this.

Everyone quickly gathers their things and begin to file out of the courtroom to continue on with their busy days and busy lives. I hear the judge hurriedly call the next case on his docket. Am I the only person who wants the world to pause for a moment and grieve? Am I the only person whose life has been rocked to its core? In all the world am I alone in who even cares about what just happened? The singular person on the planet who feels the need to fall to his knees and cry?

I look over at my now ex-wife. Our eyes meet for a lingering moment. Probably for the final time. Hers no longer have in them that sparkle of love for me they once had. It has been replaced with a look of relief. But they are beautiful, nonetheless. Just as beautiful as the first time I looked into them just over five years ago. I feel tears welling up. The finality of it all rips my heart into ten thousand pieces and scatters them across the face of the earth.

“Gina … I’m sorry … I am so sorry. Farewell, Gina. You’ll be fine. I know you will do well.”

“I’m sorry it has to be this way,” she says, and she looks away. She slips her coat onto her statuesque frame, gathers her things, walks out of the courtroom and out of my life. On to better things, I’m sure. Relieved to finally close this chapter of her life.

Once again I am cast into the deep, dark pit of despair that has become so familiar to me. A pit that, no matter how many times I attempt to escape by climbing its slimy, slippery walls, always sucks me right back down to its cold hard bottom. Alone.

And again I am left to contemplate a god who doesn’t care. Where is god when this darkness surrounds me? He says in His Word that He loves me and desperately wants to bring me joy, even a joy beyond all comprehension. Why then, won’t He bother to reach down and wipe away my tears when I need Him the most?

What kind of a Father stands idly by and callously watches His son suffer so intensely without so much as one word of comfort? He could have prevented this divorce. Out of nothing He willed this entire universe into being. I’m sure He could have saved my marriage. I’m sure He could have restored the sparkle of love into Gina’s beautiful blue eyes.

He didn’t. He has the power to calm the raging sea, to divert the most powerful hurricane, to pause the sun during its trek across the sky. But He wouldn’t do anything to stop this nightmare from happening to me, and He won’t even comfort me in its hideous aftermath.

And I’m supposed to trust Him? I’m supposed to love Him? I’m supposed to believe He loves me?

***

There is a competing vision …

As I kneel on the rocky, dusty, sun-baked earth, I look up into the bright sun and squint to see the silhouetted figure of a man. At least I think it’s a man. He is horribly disfigured and nailed to a wooden cross through his hands and feet. His blood-stained body is broken beyond recognition. His groans of agony are the only indication that he is alive or even human.

His eyelids lift. Our eyes meet for the first, and what I sense will be, the last time. His eyes have not only a sparkle of love for me, they have a deep sense of concern and compassion that no human could possess. In them I sense an incomprehensible love for me that goes beyond all that I could ever ask or imagine. His eyes are beautiful, so pure and loving. I sense that his strongest desire is to gather up the ten thousand pieces of my heart, reassemble them and wrap his arms around me until I am whole again.

“It is finished,” he says. The bright sun is suddenly darkened and the earth shakes from its foundation.

“Surely he was the Son of God,” I hear someone say.

The Son of God? I think to myself. So this man is more than just a man. He is not just a “he,” he is a “He.” He is not only a man, He is the Son of God. He is God.

What circumstances could possibly have brought about this situation in which the God of the universe would make Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness and being found in appearance as a man, to humble Himself and become obedient to death – even to death on a cross?

I hear His voice.

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. While you were yet a sinner, Kevin – and even when you hated me – I died for you. Come to me, you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart. You will learn from me and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I am stunned. I am amazed. I am humbled.

***

These two visions compete for the dominance of my soul. The first, a vision of pain, intense despair, loneliness and self-pity for the situation of my own making in which I find myself. The second, a vision of amazing love, mercy and grace. A vision in which the message is …

No matter how terrible my current circumstances may be, no matter how many pieces my heart has been torn into, no matter how many of my dreams have been shattered, no trial I could ever endure even remotely compares to the terrible suffering that my savior willingly took upon Himself, even though I couldn’t have cared less.

This vision is one in which the matchless love of God for me is revealed for all time. How could I possibly ever doubt that He desires only the best for me, that I can trust Him in every circumstance of my life and turn it ultimately into good for me?

Which of these visions will win the battle for my soul? Sadly, as I write this essay, it is the former rather than the latter.

When I close my eyes I can with stark clarity see my beautiful, loving Gina and the wonderful life we once enjoyed together. My flesh wants it back. Every molecule of my being wants to go back in time and to do things differently so that none of this hellish nightmare has to come to be. I want my Gina back. I want to gaze into her loving, adoring eyes and feel her warm, comforting embrace. I want her to tell me that she will never, ever leave me. I want to feel better. I want to stop crying … like I am right now.

I can only faintly see the other vision, the vision of my savior on that cruel cross. His tender, altruistic eyes beckoning me to love Him, to trust Him, to rest in Him. He vehemently wants me to come to Him, to seek only Him, and to willingly suffer the pain of this most recent trial so that my faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes not even though refined by fire – may be proved to be genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when He is revealed. He wants intensely for me to let go of what He knows to be the lesser dream of my former life and to embrace the greater dream of knowing Him, adoring Him, enjoying Him, serving Him, revealing Him, and becoming like Him.

As the two visions compete for the dominance of my soul, I am reminded of the Holy Spirit – the inspired words written by the Apostle Peter:

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, so as not to spend what remains of one’s life in the flesh on human desires, but on the will of God.” (I Peter 4:12)

It is clear to me which vision must become dominant. I know in my soul what I must do. Christ lived an earthly life, just like me, fully in the flesh. He endured temptations, trials and tribulations that make mine look like a leisurely stroll along a beautiful sunset-lit beach. Yet He never focused once on those human desires – the very desires I can’t seem to take my eyes off. Rather, He focused on His Father, on drawing closer to Him and on the accomplishment of His will.

Even so, my flesh beckons me back to the pit of my despair. How will I ever gain victory over this? Will I ever, this side of heaven, be able to seek above all else the complete joy of resting in His presence rather than the temporary joy of the circumstances, possessions and creatures that this world offers? It seems unlikely, but I will endeavor to do so. It will be my life’s goal.

How about you? Are the two visions competing for your soul? Is the vision of your despair dominating the vision of His glory? Or maybe your earthly journey is sailing along splendidly and the two visions seem to be quite compatible. It’s easy to embrace His glory when He seems to be keeping you happy, isn’t it? There’s really no reason to choose between the two visions, for they are one and the same.

Take heed, though. For every follower of His will eventually have his or her faith tested somewhere along the spiritual journey in this temporary world. Your burden may be light, or it may weigh so heavily on you that you feel you cannot take one more breath. At some point in your life, two competing visions will emerge and compete for your soul.

Which one will you embrace?

Pray for me. I will pray for you.

***

The Comments

Ron Berry said- “Yes, you’re in my prayers. But as I read more of your trials and troubles, I see a greater good coming down the road. Yes you lost someone from your life but she did not have the strength you have to ride this out. There will be sunshine at the end, but there is a price to pay. You need now to minister to the oppressed where you are now. But, once you again become a free man, you have a world to minister to and the right person will be there waiting for you. It may be someone from your past, or someone who sees the light that you are surrounded by. Life will work out for you, just hang in there.”

L. Diane Wolfe said- “Your brother’s story will one day change so many lives.”

Quirkyloon said- “Another uplifting post. He did suffer and die for us. That’s why in my mind, we belong to Him. The great shepherd. It is our privilege (though a challenge) to submit our wills to His. For through Him and by Him, can we return to the Father. I believe this with all my heart.”

ALL THINGS THAT MATTER PRESS said- “‘And I looked into Kevin’s eyes for the first, and probably the last time. They were filled with love beyond comprehension. Surely, he is a son of God. He has given of himself that others may learn and grow. No, he cannot erase my errors, that is my job. But he has shown me that wither I go, wherever I look, there are the sons and daughters of the Universe, crying out in the wilderness, pleading that we hear their message to travel a different path. Oh Israel, if you would but listen, I would take you under my wing.’
All Things That Matter Press would like to publish Kevin’s story!”

Grace said- “Jesus suffered so much pain on the cross for those He loved; he didn’t promise those that followed him an easy road. Sometimes trials and tribulations are brought our way to make us a better man or woman. It is our job to repent from our past errors and move on.”

Free Spirit said- “Kevin, This is beautiful! What’s happening inside of you is beautiful. This that you’ve written, stands out to me: ‘How will I ever gain victory over this? Will I ever, this side of heaven, be able to seek above all else the complete joy of resting in His presence rather than the temporary joy of the circumstances, possessions and creatures that this world offers?’
This, albeit a wonderful goal, seems impossible, apart from the reality of experiencing that presence, such that it becomes more real to us than our temporary joy of circumstances, possessions, and earthly creatures that this world offers. It is difficult when that temporary joy is all we’ve ever known. It’s hard to make ourselves want something that we’ve never had, but know is ‘right,’ and know that it’s what we should want. I believe that victory is not yours to gain … but rather, it is HIS delight to gain for you.
I speak this from my own personal experience, of spending a lifetime trying to make myself want what I know that I should. In the end, it is not dependent on my efforts at all, but rather on His goodness, and my willingness to receive it… to the point that it becomes my strongest reality. I’m not yet there, either. But, I’m done trying to get myself there. As His goodness begins to invade/permeate your weakness … suddenly you’ll find your heart’s affection for Him taking over your very existence … and only then will you be truly free.
That, my friend, is my prayer for you (and me)! God bless you, Kevin, in your journey into Him!”

Doc. Todd said- “WORD! Bro I too walked that path of divorce with my ex, ‘every ounce of my being … every molecule’ – yes I know that very well, and I know that God picked me up as he is doing for you, and as you let him, you will move forward in HIM. Blessings.”

Jessica Sue said- “Dad, Everyone has, more or less, gone through similar situations in their own lives. That is what makes this letter so meaningful–we can all relate to it. While the grieving process is different for everyone, I believe we all go through the same process of first feeling like the world is over and we are left alone to rot, to ending up knowing that God is always with us and is leading us towards a different ‘world,’ or path.
Thanks for incorporating verses from the Bible–repeating encouraging phrases, such as verses, is extremely helpful in hurrying up the healing process. Love you! xoxo”

Connie Arnold said- “Thank you for sharing this conflict you are facing, Kevin, and I am praying for you to hold on to the vision of Christ and share in the lasting joy of His love. The closer you come to this, the brighter God’s light shines through you to others.”

Helen Ginger said- “Another amazing post, Kevin. It will surely change lives.”

QM said- “I may not be a Christian but in the end, we all have to face the Almighty when the time comes. This is such a beautiful post and I agree with the rest, it will change people’s lives starting with mine (smile).”

***

Letters From Jail – The Divorce

(January 9, 2009)

The Post

My brother Kevin is our featured guest writer again today. For those of you who do not know, he is in jail. He writes to me often in handwritten letters, about, among other things, his spiritual journey. Occasionally those letters come in the form of stories and/or testimonies worthy, even necessary of being posted, of sharing with you all. This is one of those special “Letters From Jail.”

The last post from Kevin, “Thorns and Thistles – Warnings from Jail,” was so well received, the comments so many, all sincere and encouraging, I sent him the whole post and all the comments in a letter. Snail mail being what it is, coupled with the fact that all written communication with the inmates, incoming and outgoing, is opened and read by the guards before being permitted in or out, I have as of yet not gotten back his letter/reaction to the outpouring of love from you wonderful Free Spirit readers. I’m sure that will be coming soon. And I will most definitely post it and share that as well. But today, I ask you to put yourself in the frozen northern town of Marquette, upper peninsula Michigan, County Jail, awaiting trial without bond, with no certainty whatsoever for your future. There you will find yourself in the prison garb and shoes of Kevin Wilson as he writes-

***

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Jangle jangle. I hear the guard’s keys outside our cell block. Something is up. Guards do hourly rounds, and even though there is no clock in our cell block, I know this is not one of those. I hear the unmistakable sound of a “boat” being dragged across the floor into our small, 15′ X 25′ commons area. A “boat” is a portable bunk shaped like a rowboat, used by new inmates when there is no cell available. Eight cell blocks, all full, adjoin the commons, and there is already one boat. Now two.

As always, the arrival of a new inmate brings fear to my heart. By nature I am shy and uncomfortable in a crowd of unfamiliar people. At a party or gathering of people I don’t know, you can find me trying to blend in with the flowers on the wall. So every time a new inmate arrives it strikes fear in me. What will he be like? Will he be noisy or quiet? I prefer quiet.

Will God want me to talk to him?

***

Up until 78 days ago I had never shared my faith with anyone. Sure, I had been involved with several group ministries throughout the years. God has gifted me in many ways and I grew up in a ministerial family. But ask me to go out on a limb and share my faith with someone I don’t know one-on-one? Forget it! I don’t even really like people. In a stranger’s home I’m more drawn to the family pet than I am to the people. I am like Charlie Brown when he said in Lucy’s psychiatrist booth, “I don’t hate mankind, it’s people I can’t stand!”

I don’t know why I am this way and I am ashamed to admit it. But it’s true. Always been this way. I was painfully shy as a child. Mom tells me I would tense up whenever anyone tried to hug me. How sad is that? Did God create me this way, or is it just an excuse I use for not sharing my faith? Maybe it’s a “thorn in my flesh” similar to what the Apostle Paul wrote of in his second letter to the church in Corinth.

Paul surmised that God had given him his thorn so that he would remain humble, lest he begin to feel “exalted above measure” for the work he was accomplishing. Paul’s reaction to his thorn was to push through it and actually “take pleasure” in his weakness so that the power of Christ could dwell within him. (II Corinthians 12:7-10) In my case, sadly, I have used my thorn as an excuse.

(Note to self: from now on be more like the Apostle Paul)

That all changed 78 days ago when I was arrested. Since being locked into my 6′ X 10′ cell, it has been just me, my Bible, and God. We’ve been locked in here together and no one is getting out unless or until some major progress is made. I determined that each day through this test, this trial, I would not grow weary and faint, but would seize the opportunity. Isolated from my loved ones, devoid of my possessions and unable to indulge my fleshly desires, I would make a sharp right turn on my spiritual journey. Somewhere along the divine current I had drifted off the glory river onto some minor tributary and had found myself stranded in a stagnant pond of green scum. It was time to find my way back. Back to the strong and righteous flow of the main river, so it could carry me to new and higher levels.

One of the first areas of stagnancy that God confronted me with was my lack of compassion for the salvation of others. I had never personally shared my faith with anyone. As of today 28 inmates have come through my cell block, and I have, contrary to the instincts of my every brain cell, approached and introduced myself to all of them within the first couple of hours of their arrival. Every fiber, every molecule, every sub-atomic particle of my being screamed, “No!” But I knew I must make a personal connection with each one in case God wanted me to share with them at some point.

***

Jangle jangle. The sound of the keys and the boat being dragged across the concrete. A strange man walks in. My heart thumps erratically. I know what I must do. Push through my fears – make that first contact.

I stay back at first. Don’t want to look too eager. Plus I want to observe. See how he interacts with the others. I’ll approach when led by the Holy Spirit. I stay in my cell and listen to the conversations between him and the others.

He is hard. Real hard. One of those chaps who can get maximum miles out of the F-bomb. I do not exaggerate when I say that many of these inmates can use the F-bomb several times in every utterance. Easily three times and often six or seven. I have learned it can be a verb, a noun, an adjective and an adverb, all in one sentence. It can be the subject of a sentence or it can be the indirect object, or both. On the tongue of the skillful jailhouse orator, it can be used in every position within a sentence. And this new guy is among the best I’ve heard.

I learn he will only be here five days or so. He’s been picked up for lack of paying child support. He’ll do his short lockup, go to trial, pay his fine and be out. Good, I think. There won’t be enough time to establish a relationship with him. God won’t make me talk to him. Right, God?

Not.

(Note to self: don’t try to predict what God will do; too often it makes you look stupid)

Allow me to digress. For the past two weeks I have been in a spiritual tailspin. It started on the eve of Christmas. I was called out of my cell block to another area. A guard delivered … he handed me … divorce papers. My beloved wife, Gina, she …

I was kicked in the stomach. I went into a downward spiral that left me dizzy, alone and disillusioned.

Up to that point I had been diligently following what I felt were the promptings of the Holy Spirit to be obedient to God in my prayer life, my study of the Word, and in the sharing of my faith. I was certain that God was with me every step. I had gotten to a place wherein I was thankful that God had allowed this to happen to me because, absent this experience, I would still be astray and lost in a spiritually stagnant pond of scum.

The fact that I had lost my job, my career, my reputation, my income, my health insurance, and would have to sell my house and everything I own didn’t bother me anymore. I knew God had it under control and that He had an exciting new adventure in store for me. I knew He would provide. I was eager to start all over. God was healing me, renewing me, and He would restore me when the right time came. It would be me, my beautiful and wonderful wife, her son (my step-son) and God, ready to take on whatever He had planned for us.

I had been praying hard all along that Gina would stand by me throughout this tempest. I willingly accepted my incarceration and the total collapse of my material world, but I needed my wife. I love her so much. She was a gift from God almost six years ago now. I confidently prayed that God would keep my marriage safe. After all, God hates divorce, right? It was a no-brainer. He would allow me to keep my loving mate and He would use us both for His glory.

Then … BAM! A savage kick to the bowels. Divorce. She’s leaving me. Through tear-blurred eyes, the papers seared their hideous message into my mind.

Everything changed that night. I felt that nothing I had prayed for during this terrible season had been answered. Nothing. Upon learning that I may be arrested, I had prayed that I would not. I was. After being arrested I had prayed that the judge would rule in my favor at the preliminary hearing. He did not, I was bound over for trial. I had then prayed that the judge would set a bond that I could meet so I could be with my family and get my financial affairs in order while awaiting trial. I was turned down. Twice. By two different judges. And my most earnest prayer of all was that my marriage would survive.

DENIED. DIVORCE!

I began to question everything that I thought was true. Had God been putting me through all this to heal me, cleanse me, and then restore me after a period of spiritual growth? Maybe not. Was He really speaking through me to the men with whom I had shared my faith? I wasn’t so sure. Perhaps all that was something I had created in my mind in order to survive this hell. Maybe He had abandoned me a long time ago and left me to be dealt with by the Law of Man. After all, I had thumbed my nose to His Laws for quite some time. My inert spiritual life had produced only thorns and thistles for all my years.

Divorce papers.

For several nights after being served, alone in my cell, I cried out, “Where are you God? Please – let me hear from You! Are you even there any more?”

Nothing. I heard nothing.

God was gone. My whole world was collapsing around me. Again. And this time with no comfort from my heavenly Father. This dark season I would have to face alone. All alone. Surrounded by despair, my faith had been rocked to its core.

***

This ends part one of a two-part post. Please join me back here at Free Spirit tomorrow for the conclusion to this particular chapter in my brother Kevin’s journey. While his challenges are no less formidable at the conclusion of the letter than where this segment leaves off, the last part of his testimony is powerful, inspirational and full of faith, light and hope. You will be blessed when your read of his spiritual break-through. Be here.

***

The Comments

unwriter said- “My prayers go out to you Kevin. You have indeed found the gates of hell. I do hope your spirituality keeps those gates locked. Losing the love of one’s life is painful no matter what the circumstance. Be strong.”

Quirkyloon said- “Extremely well-written and powerful post. My heart goes out to you. I’m glad you were able to soften your heart and turn to God and not become hard-hearted and prideful with anger towards God. I’m sure whatever consequences and struggles you might have to go through as long you cling to Him, you will eventually find comfort and peace. Wonderful post, Marvin. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Stanley Berber said- “Wow – Man. That’s tough. I’m sure there must be a story from ‘her side’ of things, whatever prompted her to feel she had to go, but damn man, that’s gotta be rough. Be praying for you for sure.”

Katrina L Wampler said- “Kevin, again my heart goes out to you in ways you can’t imagine. I’ve been behind bars, not too many people know that, but I’ve been there. Nothing in comparison to the hell you face. One thing’s for sure. God never leaves us. Many times (more times than not) our actions and our mistakes get us in sticky situations that can be unbearable. He never leaves us. He sits right there in that cell with you and holds on tight to your hands and your heart.
I can’t tell you what God has in store. I can tell you that He says in Galations 6:9:
‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap our harvest IF we do NOT give up.’
At the moment you feel as if you’re ready to give up … that is the precise moment you are SOOO close to your blessing. SOOO close to your harvest. Hold on tight, Kev. You are not alone.

A. Kichu said- “Dude. Everything happens for a reason. I would suggest that you need not worry about a thing … because we believe in a living God and it’s His job to worry for us … our only job is to have absolute faith in Him!”

Shari Lyle-Soffe said- “Kevin – Powerful letter. You are on quite a journey. Believe Jeremiah 29:11. Marvin – Thanks for using the whip and chair to wake us up.”

Adonya Wong said- “I can feel your pain as I read your words. I can feel your struggle as if it were my own. Keep the faith, Kevin, and know that you are not alone.”

Morgan Mandel said- “Kevin, you have a wonderful talent for words. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, hard as it must be.”

Angela Wilson, author said- “WOW. This is so incredibly powerful. The dark places are the worst, and so difficult to overcome. It is hard to stay faithful when you feel like God has left you and has ruined your world. You ask WHY and get no answers. God is silent.
We aren’t meant to understand, sometimes, until after we get through these dark hours. I find myself still bitter at God for some of my own. I pray you don’t become bitter and angry, and that your pain soon becomes joy. I pray for God to finally SPEAK. Loudly and with passion – and that you hear Him clearly.”

Linda D. Wattley said- “Hi Kevin, for sure no matter what and when we pray, the answers we receive are based on what season it is for our lives. No matter what we feel or think, God has already put in motion what He feels is best for us whether we understand it or not. We all have had times in our lives when things appeared to be on our terms when in fact it was on God’s terms. Today, we know one thing … this too shall pass and this moment will be like a dream. Hang in there knowing you’ve had a lot and still do … only now what you have you can’t hold in your hands … all within where God’s greatest concerns are found.

Free Spirit (Tammy) said- “Kevin, should you ever get to read these comments:
I’m not gonna dare preach to you. It sounds like you know what the word says, but I just pray that during this awful, dark hour you will hear what the Word (the man, Himself) says to your spirit, in the deepest part. You’re under all that ministerial upbringing … somewhere … I pray that THAT’s where you’ll meet Him. And I think you will. But don’t be fooled … there is someone else trying to override His voice, while you’re there; and he only knows lies – don’t listen to him.
I am genuinely sorry to hear about your loss (the divorce) on top of it all.

Valerie Jensen said- “Hi, Marvin. Thank you for all the updates you send, as well as for posting some of Kevin’s writings on Free Spirit. My heart breaks for Kevin. I look forward to hearing/reading ‘Part 2’ – his testimony. I hesitated to write a comment because I’m not a great writer and don’t feel like I can write anything ‘profound.’ But I know God can use even simple encouragement from His children to be of use in another’s life. I have to quit thinking of myself as the ‘little cousin’ who, now that I’ve read how Kevin hated hugs growing up, probably really irritated him when I made sure to hug every family member goodbye during my childhood years. If you write to him soon, please let him know his younger (though not so little, anymore) cousin (along with her husband) do and will continue to pray for him. And I know for a fact that Uncle Bud, Aunt Velda, and all of us VJ cousins do, as well. I will endeavor to write to him soon, too. Thanks again. Love you!

Jennifer @ Quiverfull Family Blog said- “Ouch. If you keep writing like this Kevin, you’ll have a book in no time! Praying for you and looking forward to reading again tomorrow.”

Joyce Anthony said- “I will reserve my comment until I have read part two–for now, however, here is a big ((HUG)), Kevin!”

***

Letters From Jail – Divorce – The Conclusion

(January 10, 2009)

The Post

If you missed yesterday’s post, Letters From Jail – The Divorce, click on the title or scroll down a bit and read it. Or get caught up with this short synopsis:

My brother is in jail. Kevin Wilson. He is awaiting his trial, locked up in Marquette, Michigan county jail, without bond.

For the past three months he had been seeking God and diligently striving to turn his life around through prayer, studying the Word, and witnessing his faith to the other inmates. Although desperately shy by nature, he had been pushing through his psychological thorns and doing what he thought was God’s will, God’s directive – to give in order to receive. All was going well. He had faith that God had a plan for him, that once this horrific ordeal was over he would be released a new man, cleansed, redeemed, and ready to start a new life with his faithful wife who would stick by him through this trial and tribulation. All material things had been lost to him. The house, the car, the job, the career, the reputation, the money, the toys, the retirement … none of that mattered. The only thing he knew for sure was that his wife, Gina, would be there for him throughout the tempest and would accompany him as he and she built a new life together in service to God.

Then, on Christmas Eve, he was served divorce papers. Gina, his last shred of hope of salvaging anything of value from his former life, was leaving him. His lifeline had been torn asunder. Kicked in the gut, alone and estranged, devoid of any earthly reason for carrying on, and without so much as a whisper of an answer to his screams to God, “Where are you? Do you even care about me anymore? Have you forsaken me?” … he is compelled to talk to a new inmate. Remember, he is innately scared of doing so. And this new guy is hard … foul-mouthed with a mean demeanor.

Could you do it? Consider the circumstances. I mean dig deep – this is no joke. It’s a harsh reality. Here’s the conclusion to Kevin’s last writing, his last contribution to “Letters From Jail.”

***

So there I was, with that mindset, waiting in my cell for the opportunity to introduce myself to the new inmate. Interestingly, even though I was now feeling completely on my own, I continued to study the Word. Even without Gina at my side, and without answered prayer, no feeling that God had my back, I resolved I would continue to share my faith.

I had stopped praying for myself. Why pray for myself when my prayers are not being answered anymore? Why waste my time? God had forsaken me. Left me alone. But there were others. Others in need. So my prayers became intercessory for them. My loved ones. And so many others in need.

Note to myself: Why have you always been praying for only yourself? It’s so selfish!

So now it was time. New guy had had his say to all the rest of the curious inmates, cussed his way through his explanations of his being here, all the others had gone there way, and I, after waiting with trembling heart in my cell for my opportunity to share the love of God that I wasn’t even sure I knew anymore, knew it was now or never. Time for the test.

You with me God?

No answer. I walked over anyway.

I extended my hand. “Hi, my name’s Kevin.”

“Chris.” We shook. Brief.

I said, “Nice to meet you.” I turned and headed back to my cell, relieved. I had gotten that over with. I stayed in my cell most of the rest of the day. With two people now on boats (portable bunks) in the small commons area, it was too much to handle being out there. Too crowded for a natural introvert like me. But I listened to the conversations.

I learned that Chris was a morphine addict. He had kept that from the jail staff so that he would not be put into “The Bubble.” The Bubble is a glassed-in isolation cell for inmates who need to detoxify. It is a terrible place. No bed, cement floor, a toilet. That’s it. You are put in there naked with one blanket to wrap around you. There is a large drain in the center of the cell. There you can vomit, pee, defecate, or do whatever uncontrollable release of body fluids and waste you have to while ridding your body of toxins. Guards come in periodically and hose the foul waste down the drain. There is no assistance, no counseling, no compassion. Just get the stuff out of your body so you can be put in with the rest of the general population.

Chris didn’t want to go there. Understandable. At least, I heard him say, in a regular cell block he had people to talk to and access to a shower. I listened as he explained that the warm water helped ease the intense muscle pain he was experiencing.

I made a mental note of what I had heard and said a quick prayer for him. He was starting to intrigue me. But surely, I thought, since he would be getting out in just a few days there would be not enough time for God to use me to have any impact on him.

Wrong again.

It was early the next morning that I sensed God’s presence for the first time in a long time. It came in the form of a divine directive. We had all finished our breakfast; the usual half bowl of cereal, half pint of milk and two slices of untoasted bread. After eating all the inmates went back to their bunks to sleep. Everyone except Chris and me. Still sitting at the table, I looked over at him. He was doubled over in pain. I asked if he was okay. He said his stomach and muscle cramps were really bad. God spoke to me.

“Go over to him, lay your hand on him and ask me to heal him.”

“No. I can’t.”

“Do it, now.”

“All right. Here it goes.”

I walked over to Chris, laid my hand on his shoulder and prayed out loud that God would take the pain away and that the power that the narcotics had over Chris’s body would be destroyed. I prayed that he would be healed of his addiction. The entire prayer lasted maybe 30 seconds. I retreated to my cell in haste and started to pray. You better answer that prayer. If you don’t we’re both going to look foolish.

I have to admit I didn’t have much faith in my prayer for healing, but I was being obedient. I felt good about that. Now I just had to wait and see.

A couple hours later Chris stopped by my cell. He looked a lot better. The color was back on his face and there was some light in his eyes. He thanked me and said that he was feeling much improved. He told me he never wanted to go back on that stuff again. I told him I would continue to pray for him. He left. Maybe you really are out there God, I thought, maybe I was wrong.

As if to make His point clearer, God arranged another appointment for me with Chris later that day. The mail had come in and Chris got a letter from his wife, five children and step-children. A few minutes after opening the letter he came into my cell with tears streaming down his face. He explained that in the letter his wife described the pain that Trevor, his ten year old step-son was going through since watching his “favorite father” get arrested and taken away. Trevor’s biological father had abandoned him and his mother when he was just a toddler. And his mom’s second husband had left them also, with a divorce. That step-father had died a couple years ago. Chris was overwhelmed with emotion at the revelation of Trevor’s love and concern for him and his designation as the “favorite father.”

The Holy Spirit again prompted me to pray out loud over Chris. This time I did so without resisting. As I prayed, Chris reached out and placed his hand on my shoulder as he sobbed. Afterward, he thanked me, looking me straight in the eyes with deep sincerity. He asked for my address. He said he wanted to keep in touch with me after he gets out, and that one day he would like to introduce me to his family. He squeezed my shoulder, turned and left. I had a talk with God. He spoke first.

“Just because I am not comforting you at any given time does not mean that I am not present or that I have left you alone.”

“Yeah, Lord … I see that now. I’m sorry for doubting you like I did.”

“Trust me with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Me, and I will direct your paths.”

“Yes, Lord. I think I’ve read that somewhere before.”

Note to self: memorize Proverbs 3:5-6.

Yes, my heavenly Father is still here. He has not left me alone. He has everything under control. For reasons beyond my understanding everything that has happened and is happening to me – even the terrible things – are happening for reasons that only He, the creator of the entire universe, knows. And that’s good enough for me. He may not be in the business of comforting me or drying my tears right now, but He is still present in my life and He’ll contact me when He needs me.

Chris will only be here a couple more days. I don’t know if I will have the opportunity of sharing God’s plan of salvation with him or not. Maybe I’m just sowing some seeds in him that will be harvested by another faithful servant. However God wants to use me is fine with me. I’m just happy to know that He was there, and here, all the time.

Note to self: thank God tonight that He manifests His presence to us in many different ways.

~~~~~~~

Written by Kevin D Wilson, January 3, 2009.

***

God bless and keep you, brother Kevin. Your testimony will touch many, I am sure. Keep the faith, hold on strong to God and never let go. Never. You will get through this. This too shall pass. And the world will be a better place because of you and the miracles God is working in you and through you. And one day we will write that book, your story, your testament to the transforming and redeeming power of Christ.

If you would like, dear Free Spirit readers, leave a note to Kevin in the comments. I will be printing out both posts, yesterdays and today’s, along with the comments and mailing all of it to him.

***

The Comments

Morgan Mandel said- “Kevin, it’s great that you’re focusing on someone else’s troubles and not only your own. You can get the satisfaction of making a difference in his life.”

Cactus Annie said- “Wonderful. This is so inspiring. For you to be doing so much good and finding such connection with God in spite of all the hardships. Kevin, you stay strong and continue in your faith. I want to read that book you and your brother plan on writing one day.”

Jessica Wilson said- “That is so awesome! I’m so glad to hear that God is still using you, so you can be reminded that He is always with you. (smile) I love you, Dad! Keep the faith. XOXO

Stanley Berber said- “Great and inspiring story, made more so by the fact that it is true. You are living it. Keep on keeping on, Kevin.”

Jennifer @ Quiverfull Family said- “Right on Kevin. Praise God for your obedience to Him and the work that He is doing in and through you.”

Quirkyloon said- “Truly humbling and awesome post. As a fellow introvert I know how incredibly hard it can be to approach others. What you did showed great courage and personal inner strength! God bless you and may you continue on your road to recovery and faith with God by your side.

Free Spirit said- “Ah, Yes, Kevin. He’s there. Thanks for your willingness and obedience when you felt His prompting. All of us (believers on Christ) have felt those nudges in the situations of our life, only too often to reject the opportunity to be used, because it seemed too foolish. But, see, in losing all the external stuff you thought you had, you are able to see/feel/and use the ONLY ONE THING you ever REALLY had: A relationship with YOUR favorite Father … who, by the way, is quite fond of you.
I love hearing how you are re-discovering Him there in your life and hurt. You see, in the end, there’s ONLY ONE THING that can never be taken from you … and that THING, you’ll find (if you haven’t already), is worth dying for, because that’s what it (He) did for you. He was stripped of EVERYTHING too … all just to have you. I hope that resonates deeply in your spirit. Kevin, His love for you has never waned … NOT ONCE … EVER. And, while you’ve lost everything this life has to offer, He’s still there … waiting for you … and able to make beauty from the ashes of your life.
Hear me now … I don’t even know you … and hardly know your brother … but THIS I KNOW As my own spirit gives witness, in this moment … you, KEVIN D. WILSON are loved beyond measure, and HE DOES NOT GIVE UP ON ANYONE… EVER!
I remind you that not one thing, in all of this, has caught Him by surprise. He’s known it all along and yet did not blink at giving His life for you. You remember that. You are valuable, Kevin … beyond what you know or can even comprehend! I will bring you before Father, as I remember you! Go now, in the peace that only comes from the inside out.”

Katrina L Wampler said- “Marv is so right. He never gives up on us. Ever. He is using you in such powerful ways that will last far beyond this life time. Stay strong and keep the faith that holds you tight. You are always and forever more in my prayers. ‘In all things give thanks.’”

Divinity Rose said- “You have to die to be reborn and as Jesus said, ‘this message is for those who are lost’… to speak to those who are lost, you have to go and find them. As it was said in Pirates of the Caribbean, ‘you have to be really good and lost to find things that can’t be found.’ Keep up your amazing work, brother of flame (smile) It is only when we are shattered and lying on the ground that we can see our amazing reflections staring back at us to show us to our purpose.

And a reminder … that you have made a great sacrifice … the life you might have had has been sacrificed in order to be able to serve in a great way – the rewards will be immeasurable.

Moanerplicity said- “To put it simply and as mysterious as it may sound to some: You’ve been introduced to the GOD in You. It’s not up to us to question the how, the why, or even the where. You have manifested (some of) His Divine Energy to help bring forth a healing. Healing comes in many forms, my friend. Perhaps the same spirit of healing can be harnessed and visited upon the things that stress your own soul. Everywhere there are new Miracles, large and small, if we only open our eyes to see them.
Bless you, man. Snatch JOY!
One.”

Carissa said- “I’m in tears here. The stay at home mom far far away, with little understanding of what you’ve been through and even less for what Chris has been through. And there’s the cynic in all of us that thinks, yeah right, you WANT to get away from Heroin … but will you really? And HOW?
Then I realize that’s not the point. The point is that everyone is on their own continuum in a progression towards God? Death? The End? And hopefully what really matters is in this one present moment are you moving up the ladder or down? And if you say you aren’t moving at all, that’s the same as moving down, cuz it means you aren’t helping anyone else.
You soooo hit the nail on the head when you figured out that praying and helping someone else is really helping yourself! We all forget that until we get hit on the head with it eh?
From this Stay at home mom to you … I forget that message at times too, so thanks.

Joyce Anthony said- “I can understand the courage it takes to reach out. As a strong introvert with extreme social anxiety, I can empathize. I also know that God does not ‘not answer’ prayers. His answer is often ‘no’ – for reasons we can’t fathom – but every moment of every day, He is with you. Know, as difficult as it seems, that you are exactly where you are meant to be at this moment … and in time the reason will be revealed.” (Hugs)

***

Letters From Jail – A New Mission

(February 14, 2009)

The Post

Today I share with you all the latest from my brother Kevin D Wilson. For any newcomers here to Free Spirit, Kevin has been in jail for the last six months. Facing horrendous charges, future uncertain, with the possibility of a life sentence looming over his head, his story – his miraculous spiritual awakening and growth, shared here with postings of his writings from behind bars, has captured the hearts of many of you wonderful readers.

Recently Kevin was offered a plea bargain. He wrote me and asked my advice. After much deep thought, prayer, meditation, and consulting with his attorney, my other brothers, close family, and Kevin’s best friend, I wrote him my recommendation.

Take the deal.

The alternative, to go to trial and hope for the best, that being a dismissal of all charges, for reasons too complex and lengthy to explain here, was, in his lawyer’s own words, a situation that would present him with odds that were “50/50, at best, on a good day.” Those are not good odds. That’s like flipping a coin and saying, “Heads you go free and tails you spend the rest of your life in jail.”

He took the deal. He will have to serve probably three (of the ten year maximum) years in prison, and the six months served so far count towards that total. Here is Kevin’s letter to all of us. Please read, and then leave him a comment. As always, I will print out this post and all the comments and mail them to him.

***

To all of my dear family and friends:The Imitation of Christ), 20th century authors such as Ole Halesby (Prayer), and contemporary authors like Larry Crabb (Shattered Dreams and The Pressure’s Off). I have read the Bible from cover to cover once, and am two-thirds the way through a second time. In order to better focus on my instruction, I have been restricted from all physical contact with my loved ones, stripped of all possessions, and fed three daily meals of scant proportions. No snacks. Lastly, the Holy Spirit has taught me how to best present Christ to others using a combination of my God-given gifts and His leading and direction.this for irony – I used to hate most hugs. The last one I got, a caress that I did thoroughly enjoy, I will never forget. It was a long and comforting embrace from my beloved wife, Gina, whom I will probably never see again, let alone feel the warmth of her once-loving arms around me.

I write to you today to announce a new and exciting adventure for which God has been preparing me. I have often felt that every follower of Christ should spend time in the mission fields. We Christians in America live a very soft life when compared with the trials and persecutions suffered by the first Christians in Ephesus, Galatia, Rome, Corinth, Philippi, Colossae, Thessalonica and the rest. We enjoy a cozy lifestyle with a plethora of comforts, oblivious to the severe oppression our first and second century brothers and sisters endured. We have no idea what it means to struggle for the cause of Christ.

For the past 110 days I have, with the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, undergone a rigorous spiritual training program – a holy boot camp, really, designed to prepare me for the unique mission field God has assigned me.

My discipline has been an intense diurnal focus on the healing, renewing and restoration of: my mind (the study of the Word), my body (by daily exercise and yoga), and spirit (in extended sessions of prayer and meditation). I have read books by classic authors such as Thomas & Kempis (

As part of my education and development, and to serve as a test of my faith, God has allowed me to go through several adversities. He has methodically dismantled every pillar on which my earthly life, built upon shifting sands, was constructed for oh so many years. I no longer have a home or a car, no job or career, no income or health insurance, nothing material to call my own, and – this one hurt the worst … no wife.

I have not experienced the joy of a hug since the morning of the day my training began, well over a hundred days ago. And how’s

By the grace of God I have been learning to consider it pure joy to face these various spiritual examinations, because I know the testing of my faith is developing perseverance in me. And I desire that this perseverance finish its work so that I may be spiritually mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

I am now fully prepared to go to the mission field that the Lord has prepared. The Michigan prison system will be my assigned territory for the next thirty months or so. I will enter it as an inmate, but far more important, as a man well schooled in how to accomplish God’s will. I have suffered for a little while, but the God of all grace, who has called me to his eternal glory in Christ, has Himself restored me and made me strong, firm and steadfast. (I Peter 5:10)

I am exhilarated. I am eager to begin this new phase of my pilgrimage, for I have never felt so invigorated by and indwelt of the Holy Spirit. The next thirty months will be an exciting adventure. Please keep me in your prayers and stay in close contact. I am certain I will have numerous memorable experiences to share.

My prayer for you is that the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in you what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

~Written by Kevin D Wilson, February 5, 2009

***

Do not remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive it and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
– Isaiah 43:18-19

Forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 3:13-14

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
– James 1:12

***

The Comments

Todd K. said- “Brother I can relate to the Spiritual Boot camp, we all have trials, and those trials make us stronger in Christ. Ii pray for you every chance I get, this is now your Mission field go and get em. Blessings in Christ, Doc. Todd.”

Cactus Annie said- “Kevin, wow – your words, your commitment, are so inspiring. Prayers and love to you from me in your new mission. I know you will be a far different and stronger man when you walk out of that mission field 3 years from now. God Bless!”

Ron Berry (unwriter) said- “Kevin – You are entering the world of human hell with the right attitude. Unlike most, you will emerge a brighter and stronger person. My hat’s off to you.”

Free Spirit said- “Brother, May you come to know Him, that is, the saturation of His person, over these coming years. May you be made more and more aware of His grace thru your lack. And, may you come away with the ultimate truth that this life, no matter the circumstances in which you find yourself, is always and only about His life in you.
You, no doubt, will be used as a spiritual force to be reckoned with, while there, and I pray that you will, as you’ve stated, simply follow His leading. He will display HIS heart thru you, the deeper the saturation in Him. I continue to pray that your own heart be flooded first with His love for you, and then, from there, that you can’t keep it contained within yourself.
The bottom line is that He has a passionate heart of love toward every inmate. May that love overtake you, to the point of irrevocable return, in other words … you will never again be the same … which I already sense is happening in you.
There are great and tough things to come, Kevin, but you are choosing the right response, to turn to that which you know to be the only truth.
Lastly, may you tangibly feel His presence raining down on you … right there where you are. Thanks for being a blessing to those of us on the outside! Go in peace.”

Stanley Berber said- “Hats off to you, Kevin! With that attitude you’re going to be just fine. Many blessings, keep the faith, and please do share with us your inspirational stories on your journey. God bless you, brother!”

Jean Henry Mead said- “Bless you, Kevin.”

Quirkyloon said- “There is nothing more powerful than what can be learned by example.
The example you are setting for us is mind-boggling! Words are nothing without actions to back them up. You amaze me. I wish you nothing but the best as you continue to embrace spiritual development and growth. May God bless you always!”

Nancy Sue said- “Kevin, I am soo proud of you. You have allowed God to work through you during this time & are continuing to allow Him to work. It is not an easy road, but nothing in life worthwhile is easy. You have chosen the right path & are an inspiration to our family. If God had thought we would be perfect He would not have to have sent His Son for us. We all have choices, & you now have made the right choice. We will continue to pray for you that God will use you for His glory. That He will keep you safe & guide your every footstep.”

Katrina L Wampler said- “Kev, you never cease to amaze me. I am very inspired and impressed at your faith. You are truly an instrument of the Father and He has a plan and a hope for the future for you. Please know, regardless of those that have turned their backs, please know you are not alone. If God calls you to your mission field for the next three years, we will go with you in spirit and prayers. (and Lord willing some day in person).
I do hope you one day consider following in Marv’s footsteps and perhaps write about your experience. As always, you’re in my thoughts and prayers. Stay strong, keep smiling, and remember Galations 6:9.”

Joyce Anthony said- “I greatly admire your strength of character, Kevin. God has made an excellent choice in His missionary.”

***

Jabez’s Prayer – Letters From Jail

(January 18, 2009)

The Post

Here’s the latest offering in the “Letters From Jail” series from my brother Kevin, writing from behind bars at Marquette, Michigan, county jail. I thought it most appropriate for a Sabbath Day post.


Be Careful What You Pray For

(Musings on the Holy Spirit)

When you earnestly pray to God for something, you had better be ready when He answers, and He may not answer in a manner that your limited understanding of His divine ways can comprehend. You might find yourself in a strange new world, a seemingly God-forsaken place, but a place where your earnest prayer is answered.

There is a little known character in the Old Testament whose story is never retold to the children in Sunday School and is rarely mentioned alongside the major notables like Moses, Abraham, or King David. In fact, there are only two verses about him in the entire Old Testament, and they are hidden among the genealogical tables In First Chronicles that trace the descendants of Adam all the way to Jacob. Most readers’ eyes have glazed over long before they get to Chapter Four verses nine and ten, but here the author pauses in his long, dry recanting of lineages to tell a brief, yet very important story of Jabez. It is as if the author is saying, “Hold on for a minute. I’ve got to tell you a little bit more about this guy, Jabez. He was really special.” And the author writes (I Chronicles 4:9-10, King James Version):

“And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren: and his mother called him Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bare him with sorrow.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it would not grieve me!’ And God granted him that which he requested.”

After that brief passage, the author of Chronicles resumes his seemingly endless (and to the unscholarly novice Bible reader, yawn-inducing), recounting of the lineage from Adam to Jacob.

I was impressed when I learned about Jabez. I wanted to emulate him, so I started to model my prayers after his prayer. After all, the result of Jabez’s prayer was that God granted his requests. Might as well see if it works for me. I began to pray for God’s blessings on me each day. I asked that He would “enlarge my coasts,” in other words, expand my area of influence, to give me opportunity (and responsibility) to share my faith with others. I asked God to keep His hand upon me and guide me. In my weakness, I knew I would need His help. Finally, I prayed that He would keep evil from me that day, much like the way in which Jesus taught us to pray.

The net result of my praying in this way so far? As of this writing, I am in my 80th day of incarceration in the county jail. Nothing’s changed. Outwardly.

The obvious reaction is, “So what happened? This is how God answers prayer? Is this some kind of cruel joke? What about the blessings? What about the enlarging of my coast? What about His guiding hand upon me? What about keeping evil from me … I am surrounded by evil! Jail is the antithesis of what I asked for!”

That’s the obvious, right? Well, hold on … not so fast.

Has God blessed me through this experience? You bet He has. Eighty days ago I was stuck in the mire of an unproductive spiritual life based upon my own selfish desires. Since being locked in here, nearly devoid of any contact with my loved ones and without any earthly possessions, with only myself, my God and my Bible to sustain me, God has brought about great changes in me. He proceeds to heal me and renew me, and will restore me someday when the time is right. Absent the blessing of this experience I would still be stuck in the quagmire of my former life, going nowhere and grieving my heavenly Father to the final day of my earthly existence.

Has God expanded my coast? Uh, yeah … HELLO, I’m in jail! I have unlimited access to men who have hit rock bottom, clinging to the end of their ropes. Some of them don’t don’t know God and have no interest in hearing about Him. Some don’t know Him and are seeking to find Him, but don’t know where to look. Some once knew Him but have fallen away and are trying to find Him again. The possibilities are endless and the horizons of my coast are as far as the eye can see.

Do I sense God’s hand upon me? Yes. I do. Before embarking on this spiritual journey I had never shared my faith with an unbeliever. I was born painfully shy, with an inborn fear of people. I have an intimacy problem. A fear of rejection. My list of of lame excuses went on and on ad infinitum ad nauseum. Now I find myself actively seeking opportunities to share with the other inmates and I am invigorated by the fruit that has come to bear. The most invigorating aspect is the fact that it’s not even me doing the sharing. It is the Holy Spirit working through me. It is He who creates the opportunity, who creates the perfect timing, who gives me the right words, who gives me the right tone of voice, and it is He who gives me the right facial expressions and body language.

Is God keeping evil from me? It may seem counter-intuitive to you to think so in a place where evil abounds in the hearts of men, but the answer is yes. He is keeping evil from me. Being isolated like this is not unlike being a 15th century monk in a monastery. There is no money to hoard, there are no material things to covet, there are no scantily clad women to lust after. For 80 days there has been nothing to tempt me to take my eyes off of the prize of being renewed by the will of God – that which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

So there you have it. I prayed just as did Jabez, all those centuries ago. God granted me that which I requested. Does God answer prayer? He sure does. But be careful what you ask for. He might just turn your world upside down.

***

The Comments

Ron Berry said- “Now that is taking scripture and putting it to use the way it is supposed to be. Good job!”

Danielle N Calhoun said- “I’m ashamed to admit, this is the first post I’ve read from your brother, Marvin, but man does he speak volumes. I’ve always heard the expression, be careful what you wish for….and believe me, I’ve prayed and wished for things, and have always wondered, did they ever come true, but that’s when I look at my son and say, Yep! God does answer prayers!”

Stanley Berber said– “Powerful prayer and testimony.
Thanks for sharing this – perfect for a Sunday morning read, Marv. And Kevin, keep the faith and keep praying that prayer!”

Katrina L Wampler said- “I’ve been praying the Jabez prayer for quite some time but recently made the commitment to pray it each morning and keep a journal. It changes your life. Not because I’m reciting some prayer from the bible. Because I have faith that God has blessings in store for me and that if I’m willing to boldly go before the throne of grace and ask for them, He’s willing to answer. I don’t give him a shopping list but I do ask Him each day to bless me how He sees fit. Kev’s right though, sometimes it isn’t quite what we had in mind. Sometimes we find ourselves behind bars wondering what kind of blessings we’ve gotten ourselves into.
We’re with you Kev. All the way. Keep praying, keep trusting, and He’ll keep blessing.”

Joyce Anthony said- “Kevin–you have great writing ability–you get your point and the emotion across quite well. You have learned one of the most important lessons that many never do–God answers in His own time — and He knows best how to manifest what we ask for. Hang in there!”

Divinity Rose said- “Everything is working together to bring you your heart’s desires… Sometimes you have to be removed from your current place to get you to the place you want to be … that means a breakdown … and when you cling and try to hold on to what is being broken down, it can really be uncomfortable.”

Morgan Mandel said- “It’s wonderful that you can turn something negative around into a positive. Good for you for helping other people out.”

Connie Arnold said- “Kevin, thank you so much for willingly sharing your testimony of God’s working in your life. It’s so true that God answers prayer, and often in a way totally unlike what we expected! The great news is that He is with us in whatever situation we are placed and, as you have found, filling us with His Spirit to say and do what we should. May He continue to bless you in a very special way.”

Divinity Rose said- “Had to come back … opened up a book to continue grabbing quotes for my son to use in his writing practice in homeschooling and randomly flipped to this quote … ‘when the gods choose to punish us, they merely answer our prayers’ – Oscar Wilde.” (smile)

Grace said- “Now it sounds like God is working through and in you. I pray that he keeps it up. No, God does not always answer prayer the way we want things to be and I agree, we are to be careful what we pray for. God bless and I pray you will read and be blessed by the books I sent to you through pastor Oberg. I do ask that you write me a letter and let me know if, and how the books helped you.”

Dana Fredsti said- “It’s easy to tell eloquence runs in your family, Marvelous Marvin.”

Jennifer @ Quiverfull Family said- “God is working, hallelujah! Thank you for sharing what He’s doing in your life!”

***

Letters From Jail – The Doctor is in

(February 5, 2009)

The Post

Quick announcement – Soul Solutions Healing Group (SSHG) – one of my favorite spiritual blogs, is featuring a short piece by yours truly. I invite you to bop over there before clicking off into Blue Nowhere for good today.

Okay – today on Free Spirit I share with you all the latest contribution from my brother, Kevin D Wilson, writing from behind bars in Marquette, Michigan County Jail.

I think you will agree with me … you do not have to be in prison to apply this message to your life.

***

The Great Physician

Something bad, really bad, had happened. I don’t know what, but when I came to I was in a hospital room. At least that’s what I think it was. There were all sorts of wires attached to my body that led to beeping and flashing machines, and there was a doctor attending to me. I couldn’t make out his face. This hospital room was unlike any other I had been in. It was devoid of any flowers or cards and the walls were plain cinder block, painted an institutional bland yellow. The bed was small and hard. When I turned to my right I could see my hand next to a toilet bowl. Where was I? What was happening to me? My body hurt all over, and it was a mighty affliction. I couldn’t move any of my limbs.

The doctor, whose face I still couldn’t make out, was attending to me, but what he was doing made the pain more intense. As I came to full consciousness I realized he was attempting reset my broken bones. I had somehow managed to break all of them in both arms and both legs. I was completely helpless and the pain … it was excruciating beyond anything I had ever experienced.

“Do you know anything about re-setting broken bones?” the faceless doctor said as he prepared to put a cast on my leg. He had the nerve to say to me, “Can you help me out with this?”

Another hideous stab of pain wracked me. I shouted, “No I don’t, and you are hurting me. And besides, even if I did know how to help you, how could I? My bones are all broken and I can’t move.” It occurred to me there was no nurse in the room. “And where is your nurse. Don’t you have a nurse?”

I woke up. Wide eyed and alert, lying on a small hard bed. I looked around. Plain cinder block walls. Dreary pale yellow. To my right was a stainless steel toilet bowl, next to my head. I was in jail.

It took me a few seconds to determine what was dream and what was reality. The bizarre hospital room. That was the dream. This – jail … this was the reality.

I went back to sleep. And I had the same dream again. I woke up once more, going through the same mysterious quandary over which was reality. A third time I fell asleep, and again the same nightmare. This time I woke up chastising the Lord for allowing this terrible vision to disturb my sleep. I was furious, gritting my teeth and holding my shaking head in my hands.

“Why would you put that kind of dream in my mind? I asked You to reveal Yourself to me in my dreams and this is what I get?”

***

I had been in jail for about a month when this occurred. My sleep pattern was disjointed and marred by an abundance of unpleasant dreams. I suppose that is not unusual for someone who is in trouble with the law for the first time in his life, isolated from loved ones and separated from every vain thing he’d held dear. But I had been praying, just before falling asleep, that the Lord would be in control of my dreams and that He might stop the nightmares and in their place grant me visions of comfort in which He would reveal Himself and His glory to me. I prayed that my sleep would be consoling and a segment during which He would renew my mind. So why was He allowing this chimera to invade my mind? I gave up trying to figure it out, forgot about it and fell back to sleep.

It wasn’t until well into the next day that the Holy Spirit spoke to me about the dream. I was quietly reading my Bible in my cell, the experience a distant memory, when the phrase, “The Great Physician” came to my mind. I didn’t comprehend its meaning at first, but it came again.

The Great Physician.

It struck me. That faceless doctor in the dismal hospital room was Jesus. It was He who was re-setting my broken bones, and it was He who was asking for my assistance in doing so.

Through the prompting of the Holy Spirit it all became lucid. God was doing a work on me. In order to do so effectively, he first had to break me, and I mean break all of me. And it was only after my complete brokenness that Jesus, The Great Physician, would be able to complete the process of healing me, renewing me, and restoring me. And He couldn’t do it by Himself. He created me with a free will, with the option of choosing His way or my way. If He was going to complete the work He had started in me, it would require my cooperation. His thoughts must be my thoughts, His desires my desires. His will must be my will.

Yes, the Doctor is in. The Great Physician is on duty. Let the healing, renewing and restoring begin! I am ready to do my part, Lord. And hey – who needs a nurse anyway?

***

The Comments

A. K. said- “Hi Kevin D Wilson, Thanks for sharing. That was inspiring! Every time I read your letter in your brother’s blog, it teaches me something. Thanks! God bless you!
With regards,
From a metal head who is lost trying to figure what life is!”

Todd K said- “Hey Kevin, hang in there love your words I needed them today especially.”

Cactus Annie said- “Kevin you continue to amaze me how you can find the heart and strength to write and share these inspirational essays while in jail. God is truly working great things through you and your situation. Keep the faith!”

Katrina L Wampler said- “Great letter … great post! Thanks so much for sharing again, Kevin AND Marvin.”

Leslie Smith said- “To Kevin, I have been following your story here on Marvin’s blog since the very beginning. You are an instrument of God, and I do believe that (as hard as it truly is for you right now) that you are showing an amazing strength, and the Spiritual growth that is taking place inside of you is amazing! Your story is going to reach many people who really need to hear it, and it’s going to change lives Kevin.
Many Blessings, Leslie”

Divinity Rose said- “It is when I’m shattered and laying on the ground that I can see what is being reflected … and you’ll find nurses through those you minister to.”

Free Spirit said- “I love it when you share these, Marvin! And, I love what my Papa’s up to in Kevin’s life. He’s doing well to listen to, perhaps, the only voice he can hear any more. That one we call Holy Spirit. Perhaps, it’s even easier for him to hear it, when all other responsibilities/cares have been stripped from him. You know, in some ways, I even envy Kevin.
Kevin, thanks for utilizing what you’ve got, brother. Your life is not ‘for not.’ Keep listening. You KNOW He’s speaking to you. And, your life is touching many out here! Amazing, how you find Him right there in that cell with you!! He’s got your number… always has!
Blessings, Kevin!”

Quirkyloon said- “Kevin, You continue to amaze me. What great spiritual maturity you keep exemplifying. Humility is the key to greater strength through God. Thanks for reminding me of that. (smile)

L. Diane Wolfe said- “As a Christian, I knew the answer immediately.
Your brother has amazing faith and a gift with words. Just imagine what will happen when his gift is unleashed on the world? Beautiful words!”

Helen Ginger said- “Kevin, thanks for writing this. And Marvin, thanks for sharing it with all of us.”

Heidi Writer said- “Wow. Very profound, very true. Keep on writing, Kevin. Thanks, Marvin, for sharing with us.”

Connie Royce said- “Goosebumps, Uncle Kevin!”

Connie Arnold said- “Wow, that really touched my heart! What a wonderful lesson to learn and a blessing to others as you share it. If we could all only learn it without having to be broken ourselves, but that is often the only way to get our attention! Thank you, Kevin, and Marvin for sharing.”

***

Letters From Jail – God’s Wonderful and Mysterious Ways

(May 24, 2009)

The Post

Today I’m sharing one of the last two guest posts not yet published here on Free Spirit, written by my brother Kevin, from behind bars, in his “Letters From Jail” series. There will be one more post in this series, and then a new series will begin, as Kevin continues to share his spiritual journey with writings he is calling, “Letters From the New Mission Field.” I’ve read the first installment of that series and it promises to be very inspirational.

For those who are new to Free Spirit and haven’t a clue what’s going on here (smile), do a quick catch up if you’d like to, and read this.

And now I give you Kevin Wilson, sharing a remarkable experience he had “on the inside,” at Marquette, Michigan, County Jail.

***

“Put Wilson in D-Block,” I heard the voice from the control room crackle over the radio.

“Affirmative,” the guard said as he put his key into the lock. Just as he was about to turn it, the voice crackled again.

“Hold on, Deputy. Put Wilson into E-Block.”

With that, the deputy took me down the hall and locked me into E-Block, a place where my spiritual journey took a sharp and unexpected turn. A turn that led me through the valley of the shadow of death, and yet one that has led to a path of enlightenment on which God has called me to His eternal glory through Christ, and will Himself complete and make me into what I ought to be – established, grounded securely, strengthened, and settled in the center of His will.

I didn’t realize at the time the significance of the last second change from D-Block to E-Block but, as you will see, it was the first of many examples of how God moves in wonderful and mysterious ways.

My body was sore and weary as the guard led me down the narrow hallway to E-Block. After my arrest I spent 72 hours in a holding cell, “affectionately” referred to as the “drunk tank.” It’s where, on a nightly basis, a parade of men come to sleep off the effects of excessive alcohol consumption, await arraignment, then post bond and be on their way. I wouldn’t have slept anyway; I only had two blankets and a concrete slab on which to lay, but the steady flow of loud drunks in and out of the tank 24/7 made sleep all but impossible. My muscles and bones ached from the cold unforgiveness of the concrete slab. My body was devoid of energy as a result of eating only two meals in the previous three days and nights. It was all I could do to keep up with the brisk pace of the guard as he led me.

I was carrying my state-issued belongings: two blankets, two sheets (no pillow), one pencil, one pad of paper, one stamped envelope, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a bar of soap, and a Styrofoam cup. This time there was no interruption from the control room as the deputy turned the key and opened the heavy steel door.

I was a long, long way from my 3,000 square foot, four bedroom home, with its large master suite, spacious family room and 52” LCD TV complete with home theater system. It felt like I was even further away from my loved ones; my mom, my brothers, my daughter Jessica, my son Kevin Jr., Davin, my stepson, and Gina – my dear beloved wife. In their place was a 25’ x 15’ cell block, smaller than my family room, with two metal tables, a 19” TV, a telephone and seven other inmates.

The deputy led me to one of eight small cells that adjoin that commons area. As I laid my belongings down I took a look around. The cell was 6’ x 10’. It had a 6’ x 1-1/2’ metal slab bolted to the wall with a 3” thick mattress on top for a bed, a metal desk bolted to the wall at the foot of the bed, a small metal stool bolted to the floor, a stainless steel combination sink/toilet, and a 18” x 12” polished metal mirror bolted to the pale, institutional yellow cinder block wall. The nameless guard turned without a word and left.

Four inmates playing a card game looked up at me momentarily and turned their attention back to their game. Two others were over by the TV, watching “Cops.”

I was terrified, and the thought of relying on God was far from my mind. I started to unfold my bedding and make up my bed. It wasn’t much, but it was better than the concrete slab I had tossed and turned on the previous three nights.

As I laid down the first sheet, a voice came from behind, “Hey, let me show you how to do that right.” I turned and saw the only inmate I hadn’t noticed yet.

“Sure,” I said, “I’ll take all the help I can get.” I looked at the friendly face of a small framed black man who seemed genuinely interested in helping.

Tim, as I later learned his name, was a 42 year old career criminal from inner-city Milwaukee awaiting sentencing in the federal courts. He was well versed in the ins and outs of the penal system, having served 17 years on violent gun charges and facing several more on a current one. He explained all this to me as he showed me the proper technique for knotting the bottom sheet around the flimsy mattress so it doesn’t become untucked, and how to best fold my blankets to get maximum comfort during the cold nights.

I was touched by Tim’s kindness and, after being locked in my cell for the night and the harsh florescent light on the ceiling was finally turned off, I made my first contact with the Heavenly Father. With tears streaming down my face, I said, “Thank you for protecting me and keeping me safe, Father. And thank you for Tim.” I fell asleep immediately, exhausted and drained from the horrendous ordeal of the past three days.

Over the next few days Tim continued to mentor me on the finer points of incarceration – how to return your tray after eating, how the laundry system worked, how to write a “kite” (handwritten request) to communicate with the jail staff, and how to use the collect-call-only phone system. One evening when the cleaning materials were brought, as they are three times a week, he showed me the most effective methods to keep my cell clean.

My cell had a strong stench of urine those first few nights. The previous inmate had decided to leave, as his parting gift, some of his yellow colored DNA underneath my bunk. Tim grabbed a mop, the sanitary spray, some paper towel, and went to work on his hands and knees to clean the floor and wall where the offensive odor lived.

I learned a lot about Tim in those first couple days. He was an outcast among other inmates, his favorite word was motherf**ker, which he managed to fit in at least once in every sentence, and he had a drinking problem and violent temper problem that went hand in hand. I felt prompted to witness my faith to him, but had no idea how to go about it. This guy was a hard core criminal with no interest whatsoever in spiritual matters. He was angry at the world and everyone in it for all his problems. And I had never shared my faith with anyone. Ever.

Sure, I had been involved in lots of large group ministries through which people had come to Christ, but to witness to an unbeliever one-on-one? No way. Not for me. I can’t remember a time when I even felt prompted to do so, probably because I never paid any attention to the urgings of the Holy Spirit. But there I was, becoming Tim’s only friend in this cell block and I felt led to share with him. I prayed for the opportunity and for the words to use.

The middle of that first week I was sitting with Tim playing a card game. As usual I started him talking about himself and his difficult life. He was telling me how his temper had gotten him into trouble so many times. Then he spoke about his older brother, Larry, who had a similar anger problem until he had “got his self saved.” It had totally changed his attitude, becoming a loving and caring man, and he was completely healed from his alcoholism.

I said, “Tim, you need to get your self saved.”

“Yeah, I should do that sometime.”

That was all that was said that day, but every time we got into a conversation about his anger and alcohol abuse over the next couple of days I would say, “Tim, you need to get your self saved.” He would nod in agreement. I was making progress, but finding it difficult to find the right circumstance to explain the gospel to him. I continued to pray.

On Friday that first week I learned of a church service every Saturday afternoon. I had no idea what it would be like, but saw it as the opportunity I needed.

That night and all next day, I prayed Tim would join me in going and the preacher would share the plan of salvation in a clear and simple way. I had a distinct feeling God was working through me. It was invigorating. I intensified my prayers that night. My “momentary light afflictions” paled in comparison to the eternal destination of Tim’s soul and it felt good to forget about my problems and focus “not on what was seen but onto that which was unseen.” (II Cor. 4:17-18)

God worked a miracle the next day. Tim accepted my invitation, the preacher presented the gospel, Tim accepted Christ, and the angels rejoiced, as did I!

Over the next couple weeks I mentored Tim in his newly found faith. I started him reading the gospels, and his shallow spiritual roots began to grow. Tim’s reading skill was quite low, probably about third grade level, and he had an abundance of questions. I was amazed at how the Holy Spirit assisted Tim in understanding. Watching the light of understanding twinkle in his eyes as he continued to learn more was thrilling.

My time with Tim was short. He was moved to another cell block and eventually another facility. I am currently unaware of his whereabouts and have lost contact. I pray daily, and ask you to join me, that he is safe, that he has a Bible to read, that the Holy Spirit is helping him understand what he reads, that his spiritual roots will continue to deepen, and that the Lord will lead another man to him to mentor him.

I promised Tim I would remain in contact with him until we meet in Heaven, so please pray that I might re-establish contact. At first I was anxious about losing any connection, but I know God has him protected and, when the time is right He will bring Tim and I together.

I tell you this story not to boast, but as an example of the wonderful and mysterious ways in which our Heavenly Father works. His ways are unknown to us. His ways are strange to us. But I Corinthians 1:25 says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than the human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”

Trying to understand all the timing issues that led to my short but fruitful relationship with Tim is beyond comprehension. From the timing of my arrest, late on a Friday afternoon, which meant I would not be arraigned until Monday and given a cell block assignment until Monday night, to the last-second change from D-block to E-block, to the undoubtedly countless other circumstances of which I am unaware, God’s incredible timing was manifested in a mighty way. He had His entire plan laid out. All I did was follow the current, go along for the ride and obey His promptings.

But there is something else I would like you to understand, even more wondrous. Consider this.

There I was, the first night I met Tim. I, a man blessed by God in countless ways, born into a Christian home that lived in the financial comforts of middle class that led to access to higher education and a steady job with a good salary, and given spiritual gifts far beyond most, and Tim … a man born into poverty, growing up on the streets of Milwaukee, scratching and clawing for anything he could get, seemingly with no favor from God – who would you assume to be the one to exhibit Christ-like behavior on that fateful night of our meeting?

It was Tim, not me. Tim, the man traveling down the dark dead-end road of his life without so much as a streetlamp to guide him, found a way to be Christ-like, even though he knew nothing of Him. And now that he has met his savior and found salvation, Tim will someday walk a new road, this one paved in gold and it will be much better lit, not by any man-made streetlamps, but by the glory of God.

Wow, God, Your ways are wonderful, mysterious and amazing!

***

The Comments

Ron Berry said, “Kevin, you were put there to witness to Tim. But it took the courage of a man so desperate for spiritual help to open up to you. He did this by showing you the light, the ways to live in your unfortunate circumstances. That in turn enabled you to befriend him and in time, deliver him to his salvation and to God. Good job, Kevin.”

John Bradley said, “Great story, well written and so touching and true. God works through the deeds of non-believers just as easily as through those who believe. I only recently started following your journey, Kevin, but I do so appreciate your letters and am deeply inspired by how you are manning up to your challenge and making the best out of a situation that many would only turn bitter and resentful over. Keep the faith, brother.”

Helen Ginger said, “I was awed by all the ways Tim helped you that first night, and the days after. It could have gone so differently, if not for Tim. It seems the two of you were definitely brought to gather by a higher Hand.”

L. Diane Wolfe said, “We will pray that you find Tim again! God brought you two together once – He will do it again.”

Reforming Geek said, “That was a great story! How wonderful to be able to influence someone’s life.”

Yvonne said, “A good write, excellent to read. Good luck to you, Kevin!”

Nicole O’Dell said, “Beautiful story. Thanks so much for sharing it. My prayers for Tim and Kevin, and all affected.”

Jean Henry Mead said, “Very touching. I hope that Kevin’s writings will take on book form when he leaves prison. It would be a good companion book to Marvin’s I ROMANCED THE STONE.”

Quirky Loon said, “Very beautiful and touching story! Once again, I have been inspired.
Thank-you so much!”

Cactus Annie said, “Truly remarkable. Too many ‘coincidences’ to be just coincidence, for sure. God is certainly guiding you, Kevin. Hang in there and be strong, you’re inspiring many with your journey.”

Jina Bacarr said, “Gut-wrenching but so inspirational! Well done.”

Ceil said, “Wow! Great story! As you say, there are no coincidences with God. What a privilege for you to be a part of God’s reaching into Tim’s life. Keep the faith. We are praying for you.”

Jennifer @ Quiverfull Family said, “I was spell-bound Kevin. Thank you for continuing to share your journey with us here. I agree with Jean – when’s the book coming out? Prayers going up for you, brother!”

Maxine Clark said, “Powerful tale! Thanks, Kevin – and Marvin.”

A. K. said, “Kevin sometimes I feel that you are in such a situation because God planned this. This post was very much a blessing. Thanks for sharing.”

***

Letters From Jail – The Glory River

(June 7, 2009)

The Post

This is a special presentation, the concluding article in the first series of guest posts by my brother, Kevin Wilson, written from behind bars as he penned his spiritual and inspirational journey that has come to be known and appreciated by so many here at Free Spirit as the “Letters From Jail.” In a couple weeks a new series will begin, as Kevin continues to write his way through his incarceration, with a new series he is titling, “Letters From The Missions Field.”

I now turn this blog over to my brother, Kevin Wilson.

***

The Glory River

The Glory River and its divine current carries me along to a wonderful place being prepared for me. It is a place magnificent beyond imagination. I cannot yet see it, for there are many bends around which I must first traverse, rapids to navigate, and dark, foreboding stretches of cold, dark water during which I have to lay down my paddle and cling to my Papa, my God.

No, I cannot yet see my final destination. But oftentimes, when I draw quietly near to Him and listen, He tells me of its wondrous beauty. How it gleams with His splendor, like a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. He tells me of its twelve magnificent gates, each one made from a single pearl, and of the glorious city within – streets made of gold so pure as to be transparent like glass. Every tear will be wiped away and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order will have passed away and the new will be ushered in.

Wonder fills my eyes and hope fills my heart as I contemplate this glorious destination, but He reminds me there is much yet to be done along the Glory River before I may enter. There are trials to endure, heartaches to overcome, and challenges over which victory must be gained. All of these things, He tells me, are to be enjoyed right along with the blessings I am to receive.

Okay, this I don’t quite understand. The blessings of the Glory River, with its moss lined banks, luscious grassy knolls and countless trees bearing fruit, are easily enjoyed. But what are the trials, heartaches and challenges that He speaks of? So I ask Him, “How am I to enjoy even those?”

“Enjoy them because they are a testing of your faith, a testing that will produce perseverance,” He says, “and let your perseverance be perfect so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If during these periods of testing you draw near to me and cling to me rather than to your earthly desires, you will learn what it means to enjoy your trials and to truly enjoy me.”

I am perplexed by His meaning. He directs my attention to all the people on the banks of the Glory River as we pass by. Strange, I’ve never noticed them. I’ve always been consumed with my own enjoyment of the river. I have often dipped into its refreshing waters, napped on its velvety soft banks and eaten the nectar of its endless supply of fruit. But I’ve never taken the time to notice all the people who don’t partake of anything the river has to offer. Throngs of people, some seemingly happy, but none of them are paying heed to the divine current. I see some looking for a way in, but they have no canoe or paddle. Is no one going to tell them of the livery in plain sight behind them, and the rental is free?

“Papa,” I say, “How many of these people have I passed by without a thought of their plight?” He says nothing, but a tear trickling down His face tugs at my heart, and causes one to drip down mine.

A fork is up ahead – I must decide. To the left is a fabulous scene, stretching as far as I can see. Smooth waters abound and trees full of the fruits of abundance. A multitude has moored there, feasting on the fruits of good health, high income, beautiful homes, happy marriages and godly children. Strangely, all of them are grotesquely obese. They lie about all day in the caressing grass, basking in the sun. In them I sense no desires of the Spirit. I turn to ask Papa why. Another tear cascades down his cheek.

I steer toward the left fork. I feel His hand on my shoulder, and sense Him directing me toward the right fork. So I look that way.

Fear strikes me.

There are no fruit trees full of blessings, no mossy banks, no soft pastures to lay upon going that way. Only cold jagged boulders and evil creatures with horns and pointy tails. The icy dark water churns in a frothy tempest and overhead in the pitch black clouds, see there? – images of prison bars, divorce papers, and fading resemblances of my loved ones disappearing in blue flashes of lightning.

“No,” I scream, “Not this way! Papa, please – I came to the Glory River because of the promised blessings, the fruitful life of more abundance. What happened to ‘seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you?’ I am seeking your kingdom. That’s where this river leads, right? Please, let me take the fork on the left so I may have a taste of those blessings. That’s what I signed up for – the ‘Happy Christian’ life in which you provide for all my needs. And, if I do exceptionally well at following the rules, You rain down your blessings upon me here on the Glory river, and when I die I go to Heaven to be with you forever. That’s the deal, right? RIGHT?

Another salty drop of moisture makes its way down His face. “If that’s all you wish for, then so be it. Take the fork on the left.” A profound sadness pervades His voice. He starts to turn away, then pauses … and turns back to say, “If you would truly seek life more abundant and blessings beyond all you could ask for or imagine, take the fork on the right.” He turns, and again returns, to say this:

“Yes it is true, the right fork leads to challenges, to tiredness, to periods of sadness and misery, and even great strife. You may be lonely with tears that are never wiped away for days upon end, but …

“If you learn to draw near and cling to me in your brokenness. If you desire to experience my love for you more than any other of the blessings from the fork on the left, then you will experience untold joy. You will fly on wings like eagles, soaring above the clouds with a view of me that very few have seen – for narrow is the gate through which these shall pass.”

“Wow,” I say, “Great! That sounds so challenging and rewarding. I do want so much to please you. I will take the fork to the right. And hey – all those other blessings – the house, the car, the good job with the fat income, the beautiful wife and happy, happy family … I get all the extras you just now described plus I still get all those things, right?”

A look of pity and concern crosses His face. “No, son, I will not promise all those ‘things.’ I will not even tell you when you will experience all that I just described to you as reward for traversing the right fork. But know this. I promise you will experience it.”

Hmm, I think to myself as I drop my head to ponder, that doesn’t make any sense. I look back up to ask for an explanation, but …

He is gone. I’m alone in my canoe. The divine current has taken me down the fork to the right, close to beyond the point of no return. I furiously paddle against the current to reach the safety of the fork on the left, but to no avail. I am powerless to alter my fate. The divine current has made Its choice for me.

“Help me, Papa,” I scream, “Where are you? Where have you gone?”

Too late.

He’s gone.

I’m being swept into the tempest. Suddenly prison bars surround me. A divorce lawyer hisses at me as her forked tongue pierces my skin and a treasured family portrait floats by. I reach for it. Can’t get it. For several moments – maybe it’s weeks, months, can’t tell – despair and self pity fill my soul. I consider plunging into the frigid waters and drowning to escape the nightmare, but then …

I sense Him, ever so faintly, and I remember His words:

“Draw near to me. Cling to me in your brokenness. Enter the narrow gate. Soar above the clouds.”

Again He, the sensation, disappears.

I set my paddle down beside me and lie back in my canoe. As the raging current takes me down this fearsome lonely tributary, I pray:

“Papa, I am alone and afraid. Terrible things are happening to me. I am helpless. What shall I do? Where are you? I remember what you promised me – I am safe, not alone, right? Probe me and know my heart; try me and know my concerns. See if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting. I am sorry for living only for Your blessings and for always taking the easy route. I do want You more than any blessings You might bestow. Above all else, I want to know You, adore You, serve You, reveal You, and become like You. I am clinging to You, please draw near to me. I resolve to put nothing before You ever again, to graciously accept any blessing You send, but only secondarily to the absolute joy of experiencing Your loving, warm embrace. Amen.”

I open my eyes. Prison bars still surround me. My beloved wife is still gone. My family is far away and the cold waters continue to stir about. Yet a warm calm surrounds me as God holds me close.

He whispers, “You’re safe, my son, safe. Just rest in me, I’ll see you to your home.”

I sit up in my canoe and watch the storm rage all around, but my fears fade away as I bask in the comfort of His embrace. Yes, I will confidently travel this dark and stormy way, and now do so with new energy – energy from the living God. Further storms may ensue – bring them on. I am ready and able to face any discomfort and any darkness, for I am experiencing true oneness with the Holy One on High.

In closing, please pray this with me, fellow traveler-

“God, I do not ask You for Your presents – but I do desire, above all else … to be – in your presence.”

***

The Comments

Yvonne said, “A wonderful write, excellent to read and I wish you well when you
are released.”

Marcus Phillips said, “Great story – inspiring. And that’s a true prayer from the heart to live by.”

Free Spirit said, “Kevin, WOW! You really are getting it. Yes, you have found the best part… the only part that matters. Knowing His love, and basking in it is truly all you need. I’m so thrilled with the message and heart of this piece you’ve written. I see how you are hearing Him, and His love is penetrating the very depths of your being. That brings tears to my eyes, brother. For you have found the prize … now cling to it (Him) with your very life and every ounce of strength.
I have recently been pondering the very things you write of here … comfortable Christianity and it’s search for the blessed life … wow, how even mainstream Christianity has missed the boat, and is taking multitudes of Christians with it. They don’t know, or even care, that they’re missing out on the blessing. Yep, it’s fat and happy Christianity, and it’s being preached from the most ‘unlikely’ of sources … people who should know better … but don’t … because they, too, are on the wrong boat to begin with.
I love your analogy of the river and the fork in it … and even the divine current – wow! Papa’s been talking to you. You see, brother, what most never will. Stay in that embrace … He is perfecting in you what you were born for … you see, His calling is without repentance – meaning if you have ever felt a call from Him on your life, even if it was as a kid, or just yesterday, HE does not repent from it, or turn the other way … change His mind. You see, at the moment He placed it in your heart, He already knew the end from the beginning. He had already seen your life lived out and knew of your choices … past, present, and future … and yet still placed a call on your life. It’s still there, Kevin. I even sense it from your writing. He’s ALL OVER you.
Continue to let these years in prison have their perfect purpose in you. When your time is up there, He will be bursting forth from the very pores of your substance … and that‘s the very substance He will use to change hearts and lives around you … to usher others into His presence with you.
Kevin, it’s FAR GREATER than the fork to the left. I rejoice with you in spirit to see the beauty of His work in you. Press on brother … toward THE PRIZE. You are precious in His sight… and mine too. Blessings to you, my friend.”

Free Spirit also said, “Hey, and that’s not to discount the hearts and lives He is changing through you while still there in prison. (smile)”

Quirky Loon said, “It’s funny I was just thinking about your brother yesterday and wondering how he is doing. I’m so glad to see that he is clinging to our Papa … still.
Sometimes it’s hard to do, but as Kevin states, it’s so worth it! Thanks again for sharing some of your wonderful, uplifting insights.”

Ron Berry said, “Kevin – As you have so succinctly stated, material goods are temporary. You have seen the light and are following the rays to the right hand of God, from which said rays emanate. Good for you Kevin, you will survive and be better for your trials and tribulations.”

Daryl Wilson said, “Many thanks to Marvin for publishing this one. Kudos to Kevin for a fine job of capturing the very core, the nub, of a concept he and I have been discussing for some time now. It is a way of looking at the spiritual life we first found reading “The Pressure’s Off” by Larry Crabb.

What makes Kevin’s take on it so poignant is his casting of the truth into a modern parable, one based in his oh-so-recent experiences. Yet the almost poetic telling of it makes it a tale worth relating for time to come.
The challenge for us folk who are not currently dealing with such obviously painful circumstances is: How do we keep from falling into the trap of seeking only our own comfort and avoiding at all costs the pain that so often must accompany real spiritual growth? Are we really ready to pray for true growth at ANY cost?”

Cactus Annie said, “Hey I thought something sounded familiar about this story – thanks for that bit of info, Daryl, I actually read Pressure’s Off some time ago. And I agree, Kevin’s retelling it in such a poetic parable form is just great. Keep going strong, Kev – Papa’s got your back!”

Marvin D. Wilson said, “Just wanted to jump in here and say ‘Thanks’ for Kevin to all the wonderful comments so far. He always appreciates your kind words and encouragement – I print these posts along with all the comments and mail them to him, and he is, as you can imagine, always next to tears with gratitude for the support of you great Free Spirit readers. You guys’re the best.”

L. Diane Wolfe said, “Incredible analogy and a beautifully written piece. Kevin, wish you could come share with our singles group at church – they would learn and & understand so much!”

Jack C. Young said, “Bless you for sharing this, Kevin. Carrying the cross (which you now are, and will until you come to Calvary–whenever that will be) is never easy or pleasant. The hammer and set of nails waiting at the end of the climb aren’t pleasant to think of either. Just remember that Our Lord cried your exact complaint to His Papa: ‘Let this cup pass from me.’ But He also said, as you have, ‘Not my will but Yours be done.’
The final resurrection and endless joy awaits you as it awaited Jesus. In the meantime you carry our prayers. You family of cross carriers are with you always. Papa IS with you and always will be. (I suffer from severe ostio-arthritis–basically a degeneration of cartilage, plus a very bad and painful back–so I know whereof I speak here. I hope to see you when we reach our Homeland through our Papa’s mercy.
Marvin, thank you for sharing this. It certainly gives me hope that despite all my failings and outright sins, I am neither forgotten nor abandoned. God bless you and all whom you love.”

Helen Ginger said, “It’s wonderful that Kevin has found his voice. I know he’d rather not be where he is, but he is reaching a lot of people with his words and his prayers.”

Joyce Anthony said, “Thank you, Kevin. As I sit here, tears streaming down my face, I feel you completely. I really needed this message today.”

Katrina Wampler said, “Kevin, It is so wonderful to hear from you again, as usual. What an amazingly beautiful piece (peace). Storms are amazing things, aren’t they? Just when you think you know what’s going on in your life, the Lord allows a storm that disrupts all that you hold dear. I too am going through a storm. Remember what I said in my latest letter, if it doesn’t matter 100 years from now, it isn’t worth worrying over today. What you are going through … what you are learning and experiencing now will most definitely be worth it 100 years from now. The lives that will be eternally changed because of your stewardship and obedience will make everything worth it.
God gets our attention one way or the other. Thankfully, He got yours even if it took a storm. I for one am grateful that due to those storms, you and I will one day meet and walk the streets of eternity side by side. What an amazing time that will be. During our walk, the storms we’ve endured will flow through our memories as warm blessings for those are the things that make us who we are.
In His amazing love I hold you dear, Katrina.”

Reforming Geek said, “Wow! What a great example of faith from a very talented writer.”

Morgan Mandel said, “Sometimes it’s the challenges we overcome that make us more strong.”

Jessica Sue said, “This is one of my favorite posts! I could actually ‘see’ what was going on–in my mind’s eye. Good job, Dad–all of my senses were involved in this reading =)
Can’t wait to see you in a couple weeks! ❤ ❤ <3!”

Donnana said, “Kevin, This message has really touched me and issued me a challenge to not become comfortable in my spiritual life. Comfort rarely brings challenges and challenges are necessary for growth. Your ministry is not only at the prison but with every one who reads your letters. Thank you.”

***

This ends the first series of writings. The following series, with a new bent to it, is entitled-

Letters From the Missions Field

Letters From the Missions Field
(June 28, 2009)
The Post
Some of you who used to follow my old Free Spirit blog, back before the Google Nazis gave it the erroneous and evil boot, have become familiar with the writing of my brother, Kevin Wilson. He is incarcerated and undergoing a tremendous life changing spiritual journey and awakening. His “Letters From Jail” series was tremendously popular and inspiring. Still is, as I did mange to have all those posts backed up before the demise of Free Spirit, and I have all of those articles chronicled on this blog on the page of the same name.
Kevin is still writing, still growing, and he has started a new series of articles he is titling, “Letters From the Mission Field.” So I now turn this blog over to my brother with the first offering, part one of a two part piece, titled-
God Is In Control – Part One
There I sat, naked, in a glass-walled holding cell in the Control Center at Jackson State Prison. The events of the past several days were still spinning in my head. Traumatic events – in such a short time. I was perilously close to a complete breakdown. Miraculously, rather than melting into a puddle of emotional goo, I did what the Holy Spirit had been training me to do over the past several months … I prayed.
“Father, I was hoping that I had already hit rock bottom and now You were going to begin building me back up. I was hoping that my time of trial and tribulation was over and, my faith having been proven genuine, I was ready to be used by You in a mighty way in this mission field.
“And Father, I hope you realize that, no matter what else happens to me here – no matter how terrible things get – my faith will not be shaken. Even if this newest potential charge results in me spending an additional five years in prison, I will cling to You as my one true desire and I will serve You in any way that You see fit. Nothing will ever again cause me to take my eyes off of You. If you need to tear me down some more before You can build me up, then so be it. Bring it on. If it comes from You I know that it will ultimately work for the good of Your kingdom and I am totally down for whatever it is. All I ask is that You give me the strength and the wisdom to not only handle the trials, but also to ultimately thrive in them to the glory of Your name. Amen.” I felt better then, when …
a flying shoe slammed me in the face.
The guards had opened my cell door and thrown my clothes at me. The nightmare of my circumstances was jolted back into reality, a harsh and abrupt end to my prayer. A C.O. (Corrections Officer) barked at me, “All right, Wilson, your clothes tested negative. We’ll get the lab results on what we found under your mattress in a day or so. Expect a urine drop sometime in the next few hours. Get dressed and go back to your cell.”
It was a cold and rainy Michigan afternoon in late March as I walked across the compound back to my housing unit. I contemplated all the events of the past six days, replaying them …
Q-Block – March 24, 2009, 3:00 p.m.
After being sentenced I was whisked away from what had ironically become my “comfort zone” that was Marquette County Jail, to the nearby Marquette Branch Prison where I was to be housed temporarily until I could be transferred to the prison in Jackson, Michigan, where all new inmates undergo a period of physical, mental, and psychological testing called “Quarantine” in order to be classified and ultimately placed into a permanent facility.
At the Marquette Branch Prison the conditions were frightening. I was led down a flight of stairs, below ground level, to Q-Block. Q-Block is a maximum security place in which inmates who require the tightest 24 hour surveillance are housed. All inmates are locked down 24 hours a day. Meals are handed through a slot in the cell door. The only opportunity to leave the dark and musty 6’ x 10’ cell is for a ten minute shower, twice a week, and that is done with the prisoner held on a leash.
I was told I would only be staying one night in Q-Block because the bus ride to Jackson was leaving at 6:00 a.m. I was thankful for that. Nothing could be worse than this.
So I thought.
The Bus Ride From Hell – March 25, 2009, 6:00 p.m.
As soon as I saw all the chains, locks and shackles the C.O’s carried into the staging area where 30 or so other inmates and I stood waiting to load onto the bus, I expected I was in for an unpleasant experience.
I expected right.
My ankles were shackled together, followed by my wrists. Then a black “lock box” was secured to the handcuffs to completely immobilize my wrists. The lock box was then fastened to a belly chain that was secured around my waist, making upper body movement next to impossible. Next, they chained me to another inmate, and the both of us were awkwardly loaded onto the rusty old smelly bus, where we were chained to a cold, hard bench.
I desired to stretch out; I wanted to have a place to lay my head. There was none of that.
The long, uncomfortable, bumpy and rattling bus ride was made worse by the lack of air circulation and the non-attending to normal bodily needs. No potty stops or breaks were allowed. You gotta pee? Here – piss in the bottle. (Remember how bound up I was and how difficult this is to maneuver) You gotta take a dump? Tough. Hold it.
We got one sack lunch – bologna and cheese sandwiches, apples, and 4 ounce containers of orange juice. The constraints made it extremely difficult to manage eating anything and I chose to not drink the juice, not wanting to have to suffer the humiliation of urinating in the bottle later. By the time the arduous trip to Jackson was over, the only thing worse than smelling the humid and foul air, polluted by scents of urine, feces, and the anxious sweat of doomed men, was the pain in my ankles and wrists – bruised and skin rubbed raw from the shackles.
Fortunately the trip was made at least somewhat more bearable by the fact that I was chained to Tony – a 36 year old man who had done nine years of his life sentence. He had worked his way down to a security level of two and was on his way to a prison in Muskegon, Michigan. Tony was very kind and helpful to me. He provided a wealth of information regarding the ins and outs of surviving prison life. I was thankful to have been shackled to him. I was even more thankful when we finally arrived at Jackson State Prison, certain that the worst was now over.
It was not.
After being strip searched, mocked, and verbally abused by the C. O.’s who processed me and the others from the bus, I was given a bed roll and led to the cell block that would be my home for the next month of Quarantine. 2 Block South – an immense and deteriorating edifice built in the early 1900’s. Nothing could have prepared me for what I beheld as I was led inside.
Before me was a massive block of 6’ x 10’ cells, 35 units long and five stories high – a total of 175 cells stretching almost the length of a football field and more than 50’ in the air. The appearance was that of a giant bird cage. I felt the eyes of more than 300 inmates staring down at me, some shouting obscene comments and making catcalls. The oppressive presence of evil was overwhelming me as I and the others stood at the Officer’s Station awaiting our cell assignments.
As the C. O. handed out our placements, I was thankful that he paired me with Kirk, a man who had ridden with me from Marquette. At least I would be bunked with a familiar face, and someone who looked as frightened as I felt. The C. O. smirked with glee as he assigned Kirk and me to cell #10 on the uppermost gallery. He also got a kick out of the fact that he had put Kirk on the top bunk. I guess he thought it humorous that the 300 pound Kirk would have to climb the five flights of stairs and haul himself up to the top bunk several times each day.
It was almost 9:00 p.m. when Kirk and I had finally ascended the five stories, made our way across the narrow catwalk, entered our small cell, made our bunks, and at last crawled under our blankets. Tears streamed down my face as I contrasted my present circumstances with the memory of, only five months earlier, being comfortably snuggled under the covers of my queen-sized bed with the soft cheek of my dear wife, Gina, resting on my shoulder, the sound and feel of her heartbeat gently putting me to sleep.
I prayed. “Lord, it’s just me and You now. There is no one else and nothing else to take my eyes off of You. Please guide me and protect me and, if You wouldn’t mind, would you please take some of this pain from me? My heart is breaking. Please stay close to me. Thank You, Lord. Amen.”
I eventually drifted off to sleep, hoping that the coming days would bring relief to the intense fear permeating me and the sorrow penetrating me to my core. I was beginning to wonder if the worst was really over … or if it was still yet to come.
The Shakedown – March 30, 2009, 2:00 p.m.
“Step out,” growled the rubber-gloved C. O. “We are shaking down your cell.”
I was familiar with the shakedowns at county jail, but this procedure made those seem like my loving mother’s Saturday morning inspections of my room as a ten year old boy. The officer roughly emptied my property bag onto the filthy floor and kicked through it, searching for contraband. Not satisfied, he then tore the bedding off my bunk and flipped up the mattress. Something caught his attention.
He reached under the mattress and held up a cylindrically shaped tube about three inches long and ¼” in diameter, wrapped tightly in toilet paper. Kirk and I looked at each other with expressions mixed with curiosity and trepidation. I had no idea that tube was under my mattress, let alone what it might contain. The C. O. was unwrapping the paper to inspect its contents, so I was about to find out. And what was discovered made my blood run below zero.
“Control, we have a possible major contraband violation in 2 Block South, Cell #10, 4th Gallery, inmate number 722232, Wilson, is in possession of an undetermined white powdery substance.” The C. O.’s voice was more than hinted with excitement. I could hear the loud crackling response from Command Central over the walkie-talkie.
“Bring him in, with the substance and any property that may have been in contact with the substance, over, STAT.”
I was handcuffed and treated like scum as the C. O. shuffled me along, pushing on me repeatedly from behind as I made my way along the catwalk, down the flights of stairs, out of the cell block and across the compound to the Control Center. There I was subjected to a harsh interrogation, another body cavity strip search, and two hours in a glass-walled holding cell – butt naked.
Stripped of my clothing, my dignity, indeed my very humanity, I was alone, without certainty, and terrified. What would they find in that tube? What will it mean for me if it’s drugs? God, can this be a sign of even greater depths I am to be plunged into?
From within this whirling hurricane of emotions of uncertainty and panic, somehow, and I can only believe it had to have been the Holy Spirit bolstering me, I managed to pray the prayer that I opened the telling of this episode with. So while I was physically shocked, I was not wavering in my faith, when …
a flying shoe slammed me in the face.
***
This ends part one. Blog in next Sunday for part two, the conclusion of “God Is In Control.”
And as always, please leave a comment for brother Kevin. I always print out his guest posts along with all the comments and mail them to him. As it is his hope and prayer to be able to inspire others in their lives and paths through his writings, warnings and spiritual lessons learned, it is also a tremendous inspiration and source of encouragement to him to read the comments of those who may have been touched and/or inspired by his true story.
~~~~~
The Comments

Ron Berry said, “Considering you were just put in that cell, I would hope it was left by a previous resident. I’ll be praying along with you that the worst is behind you. I forgot how much time you need to spend locked up, but keep the faith and it will pass quickly. Just think of it as your challenge to minister to others to ease their strife.”

Cactus Annie said, “Omygod, what a horrible situation – surely the guards can’t blame that on you, you had just been put in that cell, Kevin. God will get you through this, it’s more testing for you. Hang in tough and never give up the faith, brother … I’m praying for you.”

Yvonne Lewis said, “My thoughts and prayers are with you, I have just put a video gadget on my blogs with a few inspirational songs on, should I feel down I play one and my spirits are lifted. I wish you all the best of luck and may God be with you.” yourself.
L Diane Wolfe said, “It’s disturbing to realize some people delight in the shame, humiliation, and beating of another person. I know the guards have to be prepared for those truly awful, lying, deceitful inmates, but…”

Jean Henry Mead said, “My thoughts and prayers are with you, too, Kevin. What a terrible thing to go through!”

Lynn The Story Woman said, “My gosh! I almost fainted. I’ve been snowed under for a week or so, so just this a.m. was trying to find your blog to get some truths and inspiration, and couldn’t believe it wasn’t there – but, of course, it is, and I actually found it. Why did you get booted by blogger? What’s wrong with them? Sorry that I’m so behind the times.”

Connie Arnold said, “Oh, Kevin, how severely your faith is being tested, and how clearly shines through the lesson and inspiration to us in trusting all things to Almighty God, knowing it will work out for the best! My problems pale in comparison to what you are dealing with, and your faith is certainly a special ministry to those who come into contact with you, either physically or through reading what you write. My prayers, as so many others, are being offered on your behalf. God bless you!”

Reforming Geek said, “Wow. Thanks for sharing Kevin’s experiences. It’s eye-opening.”

Bluestocking said, “Kevin I will keep you in prayer.”

AK said, “Kevin so sad to hear all these. I can’t say that I know what you are going through but I know that the Lord will guide your through the darkness. Don’t lose faith. Will surely remember you in prayer.”

***

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Letters From the Missions Field – God Is In Control Part Two

(July 5, 2009)

The Post

Last Sunday I posted a guest article, written by my brother Kevin, the first half of his two-part piece, titled, “God Is In Control.” He told the story of how he had been shipped on a bus ride from hell from Marquette Branch Prison to Jackson State Prison, where he was accosted, verbally abused, strip and body cavity searched by the C. O.’s (Corrections Officers), and assigned his cell on the top tier of a monstrous cell block he described as a gigantic bird cage about a football field in length and over 50 feet high.

Frightened and broken, he wept himself to sleep that first night and tried to keep his head and faith about him as he was going to have to endure the extremely challenging conditions for probably a month of what is called “Quarantine” – an evaluation period all inmates go through to determine what facility they wind up in to serve out their sentences. If you’d like to read the whole post, just click here. At the end of last week’s post, he was held for several hours in a glass walled room, naked, as the C. O’s were checking out a white substance found in a glass tube discovered under his mattress during a random shakedown. He didn’t know it was there, had no idea what it was, but if it was cocaine or some illegal drug left there by the previous cell occupant, he could be held responsible and face even more charges. After a harsh interrogation, another body cavity search and more verbal abuse, he was as alone and scared as any man could be – awaiting what fate he knew not as he was ordered back to his cell.

And now I turn this blog over to Kevin Wilson for part two, the conclusion of-

God Is In Control

As I walked across the prison compound back to my cell block on that cold, rainy afternoon, reliving the horrors of the past six days, Satan took his best shot at me and it was a good one. A roundhouse blow that brought me to my spiritual knees. Tears poured down my rain-soaked face as he showed me the folly of my many sins, the resulting loss of everything I held dear, the uncertain and precarious future looming before me, and the apparent hopelessness of it all.

“Father,” I prayed, “I keep thinking that it can’t get any worse. Yet, every time I hit what I think is rock bottom, that bottom gives way to another false bottom, and then another, and yet another. When will you raise me up, Lord … when?”

It was then the Holy Spirit reminded me of some words originally written to the Israelites dozens of centuries ago, and that He had recently stamped onto the tablet of my heart.

“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:2-3

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

As I claimed those promises, Satan was rendered helpless and he slithered away to lick his wounds. With a newfound resolve and a spring in my step, I made my way back to my cell knowing that God was in control and that all I needed to do was be faithful to Him and wait on Him. He would handle the rest. My future was in His hands and I could trust Him implicitly.

Once back in my cell, I shared with Kirk, a non-practicing Catholic, all that had occurred not only that day, but over the past five months. I told him that, regardless of all the seemingly terrible things that had happened to me, I was confident God was in absolute control and I could trust Him to do whatever He needed to do to bring glory to His name through me and to keep me safe. Kirk was very intrigued by my faith. Our conversation that day sparked more talks over the next several days. After about two weeks, Kirk came to know Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.

***

I would like to share with you what the Holy Spirit taught me through the experiences of those difficult six days.

Lesson #1
I need to stop focusing on the seemingly terrible things that happen and look for the miracles that He consistently accomplishes right under my nose, and that prove He is present and in control.

To the faithless (and that is too often me), these miracles may seem small, insignificant, even coincidental at the time. But when taken as a whole over a period of time, I simply cannot deny the fact that in His sovereignty He is accomplishing His will through them, and watching my back at the same time. And, if I am willing to stop worrying and whining about the circumstances that so often overwhelm me, I would be able to see the incredible work of His hand and take great comfort in it.

Take for instance all the circumstances surrounding those fateful six days from Q-block to the shakedown. Peel away the events that caused my fears to overwhelm me and look at how God was moving. It is plain to see that He not only was guiding and protecting me; He was also setting up what I like to refer to as a “divine appointment” between Kirk and me that would lead to Kirk’s salvation.

Think about it. Being that the bus from Marquette Branch Prison to Jackson only runs twice monthly, depending on what day I was sentenced, I might have spent as many as two weeks in that hell hole. As it turned out, I was held there only one night. Coincidence?

Yes, the bus ride to Jackson was a nightmare. I’d never want to go through that again. But what a blessing it was that I was chained to Tony who, in his kindness, eased a lot of my trepidation by explaining the ins and outs of prison life. His advice has proven to be invaluable. Pure luck?

The bird cages at Jackson State Prison, shakedown and all, were a harrowing experience I will never forget and would never wish upon anyone. Yet being bunked with Kirk not only eased my anxieties, it also gave the Lord the opportunity to reach out to Kirk through me. Just a chance happenstance?

Do you see it? Too often I focus on the negative situations that confront me and miss the incredible work that God wants to do through me and for me. I shudder to think of how many opportunities for blessings and ministry I have missed because I failed to realize how big God is and how easily I could help accomplish His will if I would just trust Him more.

When I read the Old Testament story of the Israelites, I often am annoyed by their childish and immature lack of faith. God parts the Red Sea for them one day and a couple days later they are whining for lack of water. God provides water from a rock in the desert, then they grumble for lack of food. God delivers them manna from heaven and they want meat instead. As I read I get so disgusted with them, yet I am not one iota stronger in my faith than they were. This must change and the Holy Spirit will assist me if I allow Him to.

Lesson #2
I need to learn to recognize when God is manifesting His presence to me in the manner in which He chooses, not necessarily in the manner I choose or desire, and to take comfort in the fact that His presence indicates He is in command of all things.

Too often, when I am in the midst of one of my woe-is-me moments, I cry out to Him and ask Him to give me relief, to make His presence known to me. What exactly is it I am expecting – a warm, fuzzy feeling to come over me and make me feel all better? Do I require an audible voice to calm my fears? Or maybe I want Him to fix my problems in the manner in which I demand with no consideration for what He is trying to bring to pass. I just want Him to do what I think will make me feel better. Now.

Time and time again, over the course of the past six months, God has revealed Himself to me, not as a warm fuzzy feeling, or by speaking to me in a human voice, or by accommodating my selfish petitions, but rather by doing His will with me as one of His instruments. What greater blessing is there than that? What more proof do I need? Still in all, within days of witnessing a miracle, with me serving as a tool guided by God’s hands, I am right back to whining and floundering about in the quicksand of my fledgling faith just like the ancient Israelites. This too must change, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

So yes, God is in total control and He will succeed in His plan much more easily if I can learn to trust in Him without question or complaint. Please pray for my continued spiritual growth in that direction.

Oh yeah – that white powdery substance the C. O. found under my mattress during the shakedown? Never heard another word about it. It must’ve tested negative for any known illicit drug. The inmate who occupied that cell before me certainly had some reason to take such pains to hide whatever it was. Maybe God changed the chemical properties of it from cocaine to Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. I’ll bet the lab technician is still shaking his head about that one! (wink and smile)

***

The Comments

 

Ron Berry said, “Kevin, you do well to turn the negative into a positive. You will survive this and will emerge stronger for your experience. To not surrender when your enemies are smothering you proves the strength of your faith.”

Yvonne Lewis said, “A very awe inspiring read, It made me count my blessings.”

Qamarina said, “Very eye opening. Thank you for sharing with all of us.”

Jessica Wilson said, “I’m glad I got to hear this from you in person last week! It was so good to see you…even better to see you with Eli! He was very comfortable around you so he must know you’re family. Can’t wait to see you again at the end of the month! Kev and I are planning to come see you; I’ll be alone in the car with Eli, though, so it will take me a looong time to get there (haha). It will be worth it, though! I love you and miss you!”
xoxo
Jess

Cactus Annie said, “That’s awesome, Kevin, that you can take away from such horrid experiences life and spiritual lessons that will bolster you for the rest of your life and inspire others through your example. I read part one last week and was like, GOD! How terrible! But you’ve shown us all the difference between selfish self-reliance and fear, and taking refuge and faith in God instead.”

Quirky Loon said, “‘To the faithless (and that is too often me), these miracles may seem small, insignificant, even coincidental at the time. But when taken as a whole over a period of time, I simply cannot deny the fact that in His sovereignty He is accomplishing His will through them.’

Amen, amen, and amen! Thanks again for sharing your awesome testimony with us.”

Jean Henry Mead said, “A powerful message, Kevin. I look forward to the book.”

Reply-

Marvin D Wilson said, “Jean – just had to jump in here – we (Kevin and I) may start writing the book soon. I think it will be a powerful one.”

Helen Ginger said, “A very powerful tale. This is awesome to see into your mind and faith.”

Reforming Geek said, “It is so nice to see someone with that kind of faith.”

Heidiwriter said, “Wow. I’m inspired. Too often we focus on the negative, but what a blessing that you’re able to see the positive light. My prayers go out to you, Kevin. Thanks, Marvin, for sharing this with us.”

Tracy Haller said, “Amazing! Please tell Kevin that I will b praying for him and let him know that his letters are very moving and make a huge difference for some of us!”

Connie Arnold said, “Thank you for sharing this incredibly inspiring post, Kevin & Marvin! I too look forward to a book and believe it will be be very powerful.”

***

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***

Letters From the Mission Field – Thanksgiving? Joy?

Posted by The Old Silly on August 23, 2009

My brother, Kevin Wilson, currently incarcerated at Carson City Prison in Michigan, is my feature guest blogger today. Many of you have followed his spiritual life journey, starting back in the fall of 2008. Today he shares with us again. If you are new to this series, I invite you to catch up with his inspirational writings – at the top of this blog there is a page titled, “Letters From Jail and The Missions Field.” Click on that.

Today’s post is the first part of a two post feature. I now give you Kevin Wilson.

***

As I write today the clock is inching towards midnight, July 31, 2009, and I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on all that has occurred in the 9-1/2 months that have elapsed since my arrest on October 17, 2008. What has the Holy Spirit taught me? How have I grown spiritually? In what areas of my faith am I still lacking? Where do I go from here on this spiritual journey?

There is a reoccurring theme in the New Testament that exhorts us as believers in Christ to both give thanks in all circumstances and to be joyful in all situations. I won’t list all of the scriptures here, but the letters written by the Apostle Paul repeatedly mention those themes and Jesus challenged us to never let our hearts be troubled. One can’t possibly read the New Testament and miss the directive to those who believe to be not only calm and trusting in the face of adversity, but also to be thankful and joyful no matter what the circumstances. And Paul wrote many of those exhortations while serving time in various prisons far worse than any I’ve seen – not because he had committed a crime, only because he was preaching the gospel. Wow!

So, as the calendar turns to August 2009, how am I doing in my journey? Am I measuring up to the standards set by Jesus and Paul? Allow me if you will to share two contrasting stories from this life-altering pilgrimage on which I find myself. Today I share the first one. Brother Marvin will post the second one next Sunday.

***

 “Forty Days and Forty Nights, then … Thanksgiving!”

Monday morning, November 24, 2008. I was in my cell preparing to go to a bond hearing. I was quite certain I would be given a bond, and one within my financial reach. I would be home with my loved ones in time for the holidays. I was sure of it, and had it all figured out. I knew exactly what God was doing. I had been in Marquette County Jail for just under five weeks. God had grabbed me by the scruff of my neck, shaken me, and thrown me to the ground. He now had my full attention. I got it, God, yes – I need to get my spiritual life in order. All my Christian heritage and upbringing sprang to the fore and into action. Okay.

I immediately obtained a Bible from the jail library and, reading eight to ten hours a day, read it cover to cover in less than two weeks. I spent hours each day on my knees seeking God’s will. I openly shared my faith with the other inmates. God had my complete attention and I knew this experience was going to radically alter the manner in which I would choose to live the remainder of my life.

I knew exactly what God was doing, what He had in mind. He had sought and gained my full focus on Him. I was spending quality time with Him and His Word. I was ready and eager to serve Him. He had even arranged for a “Divine Appointment” between me and another inmate, Tim (read “God’s Wonderful and Mysterious Ways”), that led to Tim’s accepting Christ as his savior.

I had done what I needed to; now God would get me out of that hell hole and back into the loving, adoring arms of my beautiful wife, Gina, just in time for the holidays. The unexpected divorce papers (read “The Divorce” parts one and two) were still a month away. My lawyer had developed a strong case in my defense and by mid-January the charges would be dropped and Gina and I would begin our new life together living in the center of God’s will.

Had it all figured out, right?

WRONG.

The judge refused bond. I was not allowed to go home with my family. I was unable to spend the necessary time with my wife. She needed to understand, needed explanations, needed assurances from and belief in me. We desperately needed time together in the midst of this horrifying mess and confusion. Had God allowed me to do that, I am convinced it would have saved my marriage. But no. Denied. I was dumfounded, and called out to God.

What!? – you’re not keeping your end of the bargain, God? I’ve done everything You’ve asked of me. My spiritual life is on the right track and I’m ready to try out my new wings.

This unexpected turn of events sent me into a tailspin. The next several days I was in shock, trying without success to wrap my mind around reality. No bond. No Gina. No Thanksgiving, no Christmas, no holidays or family or hugs or nothing for me. Might even spend my birthday in jail. I was disillusioned beyond belief. I spent the three days before Thanksgiving self-absorbed in a miserable mire of self-pity, angry with God for failing to deliver me. Yet even in this pitiful state, He managed to get a message through my thick skull.

On the eve of Thanksgiving I grabbed my crude, hand-made calendar, and, with tears dripping, counted up the number of days since my arrest. It was then I realized I had spent exactly forty days and forty nights behind bars.

The Biblical significance of forty days and forty nights I probably need not explain to most people. Coincidence you say? Maybe. Could be, sure. Regardless, God used it to hit me squarely between the eyes with His truth and bring me to a new plane of spiritual awareness. He taught me how important the previous forty days and nights had been to my journey toward enlightenment and how, absent that experience, I would have been stuck in what was the spiritual stagnation of my former life.

So there I was, in my small cell. Tears of sorrow, loneliness and self-pity had dried away, and now tears of thanksgiving flowed freely in their place. I realized that God had not forgotten about me, nor given up on me. He had seen fit to rescue me from my self-made path of destruction. With this revelation fully revealed unto me, I honestly, from my heart, uttered this prayer:

“Father, thank you for allowing this to happen to me. I know now that You love me so much that You simply couldn’t allow me to go on ignoring the plans You have for my life. Thank You so much for grabbing hold of me and teaching me Your ways. And Father, I’ll gladly stay here in jail as long as you need me to. Teach me more, Father, and use me to bring glory to Your name. Amen.”

***

Please show Kevin some love in the comments, peeps. As always, I will be printing out his post along with all the comments and mailing it to him. Receiving feedback and/or words of encouragement are of immense value and blessing to him. And blog in next Sunday for the second half of this two part feature post.


***

 

The Post Comments (Part One)

Ron Berry said, Kevin, you are fortunate in that you can take the negative and turn it into a positive. You’ll survive the trials and emerge stronger.”

L. Diane Wolfe said, “These posts are so powerful! Kevin, you’ll be an incredible man of God when you emerge…”

Marylee said, Kevin-Your letters have touched my soul. ‘It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.’ Psalm 18:32-34. God and his army are fighting for you, and they won’t stop until the battle is over and won! Be strong…God is in control.”

Stanley Berber said, Powerful post and message. Prayers with you brother, keep the faith – your example and testimony are making a difference in the world.”

Laurie Morningstar said, “Marvin, I think your brother has received a lot of Grace from God. I admire his courage.”

Cactus Annie said, Kevin you continue to amaze and inspire me – so many of us. Keep up the good God work and please keep writing. This series MUST be a book one day!”

Michelle Malsbury said, Hi Kevin. Having not been in jail I cannot begin to comprehend how awful you must feel and had felt when you were denied bail. I am equally as certain that when you noted the finality of that situation you began some deep self-reflection that has helped you to build strength within yourself and renewed your sense of self in ways that many of us could heed and use as example. Albeit a hard lesson, no doubt this lesson will stick with you for your entire life. Peace!”

Yvonne Lewis said, Kevin you are a wonderful writer and I admire that you have got rid of all negativity and become the positive person you are. I have written a book of poems entitled ‘Negative V. Positive’ for obvious reasons. Good luck to you.”

Divinity Rose said, Surrender and submission can be the hardest part. Keep it up!”

Reforming Geek said, Wow! Keep up the good work, Kevin.”

Helen Ginger said, Others have already said this, but I will repeat — an awesome and powerful post to all of us. Thank you for sharing.”

Rays of Sunshine said, Kevin, what a positive attitude you have! Continue to believe that God has a larger plan for your life. Keep your spirit liberated and free to roam to the paths that are already laid out for you, and prison walls will have no authority over it. AND, CONTINUE TO WRITE – your words will be far reaching. Remember you are working out God’s plan!”

Ceil Wilson said, Hi Kevin, Thanks for another powerful post. It is incredible to see what God is doing in your life. It is mind-boggling to see His power to transform the lives of those who submit their wills to His. You will emerge from prison a much better man than you were going in, and God has a future and a hope for you.”

Katrina Wampler said, As I’ve said many times, I am so very proud of you. I remember sitting at home praying for you to recieve a bond and having a heavy heart when I heard the news. You continue to be in my prayers. I can only pray to have the same courage and grace you’ve shown through such difficult times. YOU are a true inspiration and myheart goes out to you.”

Verna Joan said, “Kevin, I read your blog from yesterday and was touched by the fact that when we are at our lowest, God reaches out & reminds us He is still in control. I don’t know if you knew that Doug & I moved to Atlanta a couple years ago. So we are not in the area to visit you. We barely make it up once or twice a year (a couple days) to visit Aaron’s family & our parents, siblings, etc. But I did want you to know we pray for you continually, Kevin. If we were in the area, we would visit. Life has taken it’s toll on all of us in various ways. None of us have lead perfect lives and we all live with ‘what if’s’. However, God is faithful. There is nothing we can do to earn or keep our salvation. The work is all God working in & thru us…His perfect work, working His will in & thru us…to make us complete in Him.

One of my favorite passages is still: Romans 8:28ff. We all know 8:28, but don’t always ready the rest of the passage: And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Kevin, reading your blog this morning has reminded me again how awesome our Lord is and reminding me again that He is in control of your life & mine. He will guide your steps thru this time in your life, as he will Doug & I here. The future is so uncertain for all of us. Just when we think we are secure, that’s when God reminds us that we need to be totally dependent on Him.
May God bless you today & in the coming days as you trust Him to work his complete work in you. It reminds me of a hymn we used to sing in Augsburg:
Complete in Thee – Aaron R. Wolfe, 1821-1902

Refrain, James M. Gray, 1851-1935

Complete in Thee! no work of mine
May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now complete in Thee.

Refrain:
Yea, justified! O blessed thought!
And sanctified! Salvation wrought!
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And glorified, I too, shall be!

Complete in Thee! no more shall sin,
Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;
Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,
And I shall stand complete in Thee.

Complete in Thee— each want supplied,
And no good thing to me denied;
Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be,
I ask no more, complete in Thee.

Dear Saviour! when before Thy bar
All tribes and tongues assembled are,
Among Thy chosen will I be,
At Thy right hand, complete in Thee.”

 

***

 

Permalink to this post – http://tinyurl.com/klbkzh

 

 

***

 

Letters From the Mission Field – Thanksgiving? Joy? Part Two

Posted by The Old Silly on August 30, 2009

Brother Kevin Wilson is back as guest blogger today. This is part two of his latest post in his “Letters From the Mission Field” series, titled, “Thanksgiving? Joy?” If you missed part one, “Thanksgiving,” you can catch up by clicking here. And for those of you who are new Free Spirit readers and have not been following Kevin’s inspirational and spiritual writings from behind bars, at the top of this blog there is a page dedicated to all his writings over the past year during his incarceration. Please help yourself to some very poignant, stirring, and spiritually stimulating reading.

All right. I now turn this blog over to my brother, for the last segment of-

Thanksgiving? Joy?

I used to be funny. If you ask any of the people closest to me – there aren’t many, I’m a true introvert by nature, but – they will all tell you of my quick wit and sarcastic sense of humor. And if you asked those who have seen me in front of a classroom, or an audience or in a group situation, they would attest to my ability to make people laugh. I’ve learned over the years how to use humor to mask my innate shyness and basic fear of people.

Well I ain’t funny anymore. My sense of humor has left me. I don’t even try to make anybody laugh nowadays, and I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve laughed or even smiled in the past 9-1/2 months. I am devoid of joy. I’ve come to realize that, although I am spiritually stronger now than I have ever been, I am at the same time heartbroken, sad, and wounded. It is paradoxical and confusing.

Weekends are the hardest. It is then that Satan brings his full arsenal to bear on me, parading my sins in front of my mind’s eye, throwing my misdeeds in my face in an attempt to convince me that I have always been, still am, and always will be a complete and miserable failure. He delights in reminding me of all that I have lost. His favorite tactic is popping into my head with these hideous thoughts on weekends, to remind me that Gina, my former wife – the same woman who less than ten months ago loved and adored me – is likely out on a date with another man. She’s forgotten all about my love for her, could care less, she remembers not nor does she any longer cherish the five years of blissful union in marriage we shared. She has forsaken, and forgotten … me. He relishes filling my head with the vivid recollection of how she unceremoniously dumped me from her life (read “The Choice”), leaving me clutching at my broken heart and gasping for air, bent over in excruciating emotional pain in the divorce court room, her last and only words before turning and walking out of my life forever being, “sorry it had to be this way.” He gleefully points out that I never deserved her in the first place. She’s much better off without a pathetic louse like me for a husband.

I know Satan is a liar, a jerk and a jackass. But he’s damn good at what he does. He has managed, even if only temporarily, to suck all the happiness out of me and render me devoid of joy. A dark, thunderstorm cloud of sadness and relentless oppression has enveloped me.

***

So there you have it. Two stories, two different circumstances and situations, two diametrically opposed reactions. If you missed the first story, the one where I fared much better in my performance and spiritual understanding, click here so you can catch up and see the stark contrast.

In the first part of this two-segment post, I called attention to the oft-repeated Biblical admonition in the New Testament for Christians to be at all times full of thanksgiving and joy – regardless of the situation we find ourselves in. As you have read, as a batter I’m only one for two. That is unacceptable. This is not sports, not baseball, this is no game. This is the real deal, this is life, and I mean life eternal we’re talking about here.

I didn’t come this far on my spiritual journey to get it half right. If I am truly going to be salt and light on this mission field, if I am going to be an accurate and effective representation of Christ to those who do not know Him, then I had better stop letting Satan win these kinds of battles, and especially this one. I hate – do you hear me, HATE! – to lose to him. It is maddening to my core. It angers and frustrates me that he has the upper hand and that I seem to be powerless to overcome this grim sadness.

Please pray for me – especially on weekends. I am truly stronger spiritually than ever before, and I am honestly thankful for the life-altering and improving experience of the past 9-1/2 months. But this lack of joy is hindering my progress. If left unabated and unconquered, I fear it could possibly ruin my ability to witness.

I know what I must do, of course. I understand the truth of the matter. The truth is, God has all the joy that I need and He is waiting to pour it out onto me if I will simply stop allowing my broken heart to overwhelm me. I need to cling to Him and embrace the fullness of pure joy, the limitless, joyous, pure and all encompassing love that is God.

Just as the Apostle Paul, in II Timothy 4:5 encouraged his spiritual brother Timothy, please pray earnestly that I may-

“Be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill (my) ministry.”

***

Please leave a comment for Kevin, as always I’ll be printing out the post and comments and mailing them to him. He loves to hear from y’all. Have a great Sunday, everyone, thanks for stopping in.

***

The Post Comments (Part Two)

Cactus Annie said, We all fall down, we all have our dark moments, Kevin. The important thing is you KNOW the right way now, you recognize your challenge and I KNOW you will use your newfound strength in God to overcome the adversity of depression and sorrow. Thanks again for sharing your journey with us with such candor and honesty. Keep the faith, prayers are with you.”

L. Diane Wolfe said, Kevin, have you ever read ‘If Satan can’t steal your joy, then he can’t keep you goods?’ by Jerry Savelle?”

Reforming Geek said, Yes, when we open ourselves to dwelling on the past or trying to live in the future, we may miss the moment, or Satan may steal it. Hang in there, Kevin, and keep up the good work!”

Yvonne Lewis said, You are an excellent writer it must run in the family lol: I enjoyed the read very much. Once again Good luck for the future.”

Michelle Malsbury said, Kevin, do not be down on yourself. We all mess up and make mistakes. Learn from them, do not repeat them, and move on! I realize that the hardest lessons in life oftentimes hurt the most, but that is also why we refer to them as lasting impressions. Forgive your wife and wish her well—if you continue to revel in that hurt you only diminish your life and your purpose. Learn to love yourself and then you can be whatever you want—nothing in life can hurt you ever again!”

Elizabeth Spann Craig said, I’m sorry you’re going through such a rough time, Kevin. I hope that soon things will start looking up for you and you’ll find that joy again.”

Jeannine Gardella said, Many years ago when I hit the pit and my marriage was in shambles, the teachings of Kenneth Copeland saved my life. I was also going to recommend Jerry Savelle’s teachings on Joy, but I see that someone else beat me to it. It is powerful, and all these years later, I still rely on teachings from these two great ministers to get me through tough times. It is awful when we feel that our joy has left us, but then I remember “the joy of the Lord is my strength” and it comes back to me. As an aside, thanks to the teachings of these two men, my marriage was restored. Your life will be too. God is faithful. ‘Great is thy faithfulness, Oh God my Father’”

Quirkyloon said, Wow Kevin. You are correct sir, Satan IS a jerk! Don’t let him win. You’ve got the mind, knowledge, and understanding to beat him at his own game. Most of all, you have the understanding and wisdom to turn to God. He will not let you down!”

Katrina Wampler said, Kevin, you know my heart always breaks for you. To know you’ve lost your laugh before I’ve had a chance to know it just really tears at the softest part of my soul (and Lord knows, I probably don’t have one.)

You’re right though…Satan is a jerk, My oldest son has a Tshirt that says, “Satan is a nerd” and I love it. Satan is extremely good at what he does but let me tell you something I often have to remind myself and my children. Satan is perfectly happy leaving you alone. He has plenty of people to mess with and he’d just as soon not have to mess with you. However, the moment you become and ambassador for Christ, you become a threat. The moment you begin walking hand in hand with the Lord and following His will, you are likely to take others with you and that is something Satan won’t have. Count it as joy to be pursued by such an ememy for in those times you can rest assured you’re walking in righteousness. In the moments you aren’t face to face with Satan, chances are…you’re walking in the same direction. I love you dearly and I will see you soon my friend.

Katrina Wampler said, Oh and one more thing, Kevin…weekends are the hardest for me as well. I sat in church this morning listening to an amazing pastor and a wonderful music minister but all I could think of were the wrongs I’d committed in my life….YEARS ago. You see, when we are striving to draw closer to the Lord, that is exactly (as you said) when Satan brings his full arsenal. He has to do his best to step between us to prevent us from getting close to God.

Though Christ forgives our sins and cast them to the depths of the sea, Satan keeps them handy to use against us. If we know who we are in Christ, Satan has no ground. We are more than conquerors in Christ (forgive the spellin). We are created in His image. He calls US “friend”… If God before us , who can be against us.

I am always in prayer for you, but I will be more so on the weekends.

Gotta get going, I need to write you my daily letter. lol
Laugh my friend…laugh hard knowing Satan can not and will not win this war. Again, I love you.”

Ron Berry said, To lose happiness opens the door for Satan. Let not the past blind you. It cannot be changed, leave it where it is, in the past. Learn from the mistakes but go forward for that is the only direction we are allowed. laughter is good medicine. With my permission, Marv can send you some of the odd little pieces I write. I hope they are just silly enough to put a smile back on that face. Once it returns, all I ask is that you pass it around to those that you witness.”

Ettarose said, Kevin, I am sorry for your loss, because you are human you are going to hurt. You are not perfect and even Jesus was not perfect. Know the way of the lord and let him take your pain. The poem Footprints always lifts me up.”

Crystal Clear Proofing said, Kevin you have SUCH a gift with words. You relay your thoughts, emotions and feelings so eloquently. I just had to mention and commend you on that because as I was reading, that is one thing that just stood out to me.

More than half of the battle is your acknowledgement of Satan’s game and that you want no part of it. Talk to God a lot. When you’re talking to Him, there’s not room for anything or anyone else. Faith and Belief – they WILL help, they WILL see you through. The dark times are so very, very dark. It is sometimes so hard to find that little spark of light – it gets lost or hidden sometimes, but is always there. Visualizing that light and the warmth it generates makes it GROW. Make that light grow inside of you. MAKE IT DO THAT. Feel the warmth from it. That’s its love and hope FOR YOU!

I’m just in the process of getting to know Marvin, and Kevin, you are blessed to have this man in your life and in your heart. And another person praying for you has just been added to the Prayer List. Stay in the light, Kevin. Keep believing, praying, fighting – there are a lot of people on the other side of this blog fighting for and with you!”

The Old Silly said in reply, “Powerful comment, Crystal. You obviously not only have a deep belief in God, you understand the Law of Attraction. That’s one of the themes in my novel, Owen Fiddler. Satan is only as big and bad and powerful as we allow/believe him to be.

Crystal Clear Proofing said in reply, “In reply to your statement about The Dark One – AMEN Marvin. You know, I re-read what I had written for Kevin, and it brought tears to my eyes. I guess because I believe it so much and I feel and have such empathy for his dark times and his pain. Emotional and spiritual darkness hurts so, so much. Thank you for replying with such kind words – you have a knack for that! I guess I’m gonna have to check out ‘Owen Fiddler!’”

Connie Arnold said, Kevin, we all go through our dark times when it’s hard to find the joy, but with all you are going through I’m sure it is especially hard. The good news is that you know what you need to do to receive that joy, and your own strength and courage plus the prayers of so many who love and care about you will help you win the battle with Satan and that joy can come flooding into you. Praying for that special joy to fill your heart. You may not be happy about life and your situation but can still be filled with the joy of the Lord. Keep up the good writing, and God bless you!”

***

Permkalink to this post: http://tinyurl.com/yc3bol4

 

 

11 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Truthteller / Aug 27 2009 8:31 pm

    Get a grip folks. Nice fiction Kevin. There are no underground cells at Marquette, the busses are relatively new and cleaned at the end of each run. And I could go on. If the abuse you report at the hands of the C/Os are half true, file a grievance. Than file a step two grievance, than a step three. When the cameras watching everything that goes on show that nothing like what you describe took place – get over it. Kevin, you are finding that except in you own head perhaps, people who use their power and influence as a teacher to sexually molest those same young children are generally despised not only by society at large, but even by most of the other prisoners with whom you will be living. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You were sent to prison for committing one of the most heinous crimes on about 14 young girls. You are a sexual predator. You are not the victim here – they are. You will be done with your sentence in about 15 years. They will carry what you did to them to their grave. You gave them a life sentence in hell. Let me hear your anguish over their ruined lives. Or did they seduce you and you are just the victim there too. Publish this Marv.

    • theoldsilly / Aug 28 2009 9:03 am

      Truthteller – and I’ll use your “name” even though I consider it a rather viscious misuse of the implied meaning, I could of course delete your venomous comment. But I’ll let it stay – you are entitled to your opinion, even though your reporting of “conditions” is ridiculously misinformed.

      You obviously harbor hatred, perhaps you are close to someone who Kevin wronged. As Kevin’s brother, I, nor anyone else in the family condone what he did. Your numbers are skewed, but any crime in that area is, I agree, heinous and an abuse of power.

      To Kevin’s credit, he did not fight the charges – he’s been told by attorneys and even a CO where he is currently incarcerated that he could have easily beat the charges had he not confessed and signed a written statement admitting guilt. He decided to do the right thing and pay his debt.

      But that’s not even the ultimate point of posting his writings and sharing his spiritual journey. The point is, there is Grace and Forgiveness for those who repent and get right with God. And there is also healing for those who are hurt and those who are suffering with the pangs of hatred and resentment in their hearts.

      I will pray for you, that you can feel the freedom of forgiveness one day. And thank you for leaving you honest opinion, even though we see things quite differently at this juncture. God bless you, Truthteller.

  2. Truthteller / Sep 3 2009 9:57 am

    You are of course correct about forgiveness. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The key is confess our sins. All I hear from your brother is how miserable his life is, not the hurt he has caused little children by sexually molesting them. And no, I am not misinformed about the conditions in prison. I am there daily, making rounds and doing my job. His travail is in his head. I’m glad that a CO where he now jails thinks he could have beat the charges. Those involved in the case feel if he had gone to trial he would be doing much more time. His school board lawyer did well by him going for a plea.

    • theoldsilly / Sep 3 2009 10:11 am

      Interesting – your being in & out of the system. Certainly one’s conditions can be magnified in the mind. I’ve never seen the inside of the Marquette prison. I used to do volunteer work in Jackson, however, and it looked and felt like a hell-hole on earth. I remember each time after I held my meditation class, being so thankful I could leave and go home.

      No the reason the CO and lawyers told Kevin he could’ve beat the charges was only if he had not admitted guilt and signed a statement right from the get go when the investigating officer came knocking. He had carried guilt all those years and realized the only way to get some true peace was to fess up and deal with it. Anyone in their “right mind,” he was told repeatedly, would’ve denied the allegations and put the onus on the plaintiff to provide irrefutable evidence and prove him guilty “beyond a shadow of a doubt.” That would have been extremely hard to do after nearly 20 years. A “he said, she said,” debate is rarely enough to convict.

      I feel you about the tone of his posts, that is, coming from someone who is not convinced Kevin is truly repentant and who obviously feels he deserves the utmost punishment and should never be considered a decent man ever again. I can see from your point of view and stance that you find his writings to be not laden enough with “I’m so sorry for what I’ve done.” He is, believe me. As his brother we’ve had some deep and soul searching talks. I think I will recommend to him, however, to write a full apology – from the heart – I know he would do it. It would also make a good element in the book I am going to help him write once he gets out.

      Again, I appreciate your honest and sincere comments – thank you. And be blessed today, truthteller.

  3. pregnancy stretch mark cream / Jan 20 2010 1:07 pm

    Much Thanks for this good read. Now i know quite a lot more on this 🙂 can’t know too much heh…

  4. make free beats online / Mar 2 2010 1:28 am

    My persistent civil libertarianism will cause an ulcer if I keep reading stories like this.

  5. yvonne lewis / Apr 6 2010 4:33 pm

    Marvin, I was looking on line tonight and noticed your brother has written abook of poetry named Negative V. Positive.
    If you look at many of my poems they come from my book of the same name, a photo of the book is on my home page of my blog.it says the following:Letters From the Mission Field – Thanksgiving? Joy? ” The Old …
    Posted by theoldsilly on August 23, 2009. My brother, Kevin Wilson, … have written a book of poems entitled “Negative V. Positive for obvious reasons. …
    theoldsilly.com/2009/08/23/letters-from-the-mission-field… – 59k – Cached
    As an authur yourself wouldn’t you think it odd? Please can you clarify the situation. My book is covered as all books should be by the copyright laws. Hope you don’t mind my writing but it’s not a title not often connected with poetry.
    Yvonne,

  6. whocares / Nov 3 2013 7:15 pm

    Kevin you are a scum you belong in prison. Nobody in their rite mind is going to buy your pathetic sob story book.

  7. Madera county sheriff candidate / Oct 3 2014 7:54 pm

    Hello are using WordPress for your site platform?

    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my
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  1. Letters From the Mission Field – Counting the Cost « The Old Silly's Free Spirit Blog
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